Civil society, businesses and cities put pressure on the EU to choose reuse for the reduction of packaging, waste and pollution 

Brussels, Belgium –Citizens, businesses, cities and NGOs throughout Europe are calling on the EU to adopt legislation that supports reuse systems, notably for packaging, in order to reduce resource use, waste and pollution and achieve a circular economy. On the 12th of October 2022, the BreakFree From Plastic movement will hand over signatures collected by the #WeChooseReuse campaign, to European Commission Vice President, Frans Timmermans, and MEP Fréderique Renesas, as part of a campaign action outside the European Parliament in Brussels. 


The handover event marks a major milestone of #WeChooseReuse. 100,875 individuals, 165 NGOs, 295 businesses and the growing 34 municipalities signed the #WeChooseReuse commitment, demonstrating the need for EU policy to match the growing demand for reuse systems across Europe. 


Almost all sectors are dependent on single-use packaging, with plastic being one of the main packaging materials towards reuse materials. Production of packaging and packaging waste has steadily grown over the past 20 years and in 2018, Europe saw a record 174 kg of packaging waste per person. To counter this growing issue, #WeChooseReuse urges national and EU decision-makers to make reuse the new normal by harmonizing packaging types to enable the scale-up of refill and reuse systems such as Deposit Return Schemes, and restrict the use of certain single-use packaging, especially where reusable products are possible.   

Mindy and Abi in Brussels

 The signature handover comes in time for the much-anticipated revision of the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (PWD), which will clarify the extent of the EU’s ambitions towards reuse by outlining requirements for packaging design and reduction in packaging and packaging waste.  


Break Free From Plastic and its members have consistently called for the PPWD to support a just transition to reuse systems for packaging, including a cap on overall packaging decreasing over time, binding reuse targets, economic incentives and support for reuse and refill systems. Austria, Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Sweden also called for the adoption of reuse targets at the EU level earlier this year.  


The devastating impacts of the dependency on single-use plastics and packaging is clear - yet so are the solutions. They fit in two keywords: reduction and reuse! ” said Justine Maillot, Policy coordinator of the Rethink Plastic alliance. “With the upcoming revision of its main legislation on the packaging, the EU has an opportunity to end overpackaging and make reuse systems the new norm for packaging. Effective reuse systems across Europe would greatly reduce resource use, packaging waste and pollution while also contributing to reducing oil and gas consumption. Yet such systems can only blossom if the EU and EU governments adopt measures to enable reuse and create the confidence for reuse infrastructure to be built across Europe.”       


The PPWD revision will additionally lay ground for businesses and cities, both of which have been strong proponents of the #WeChooseReuse campaign, to strengthen the implementation of reusable systems and shift dependency away from single-use packaging.  


Whilst EU and national regulations are needed to create a harmonized framework adequate for reuse, it is at the local level where change is truly embedded within societies. The municipalities which have signed the #WeChooseReuse commitment show that we have an alternative to the status quo. Together with our Zero Waste Cities, these signatories are showcasing practical examples of how reuse models are more cost-effective, healthier and better for the environment and communities.” said JackMcQuibban, Zero Waste Cities Programme Coordinator, Zero Waste Europe.  


To change the status quo of the packaging industry and strengthen the expansion of reuse systems, a coalition of forces is needed. The lack of an adequate legal framework that supports stable business models for a circular economy compromises the progress made by today's reuse pioneers. With the potential lack of ambition in the upcoming Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive, this completely jeopardises Europe's chance to bring fast, sustainable, social and economic change to our current system. This is why we support initiatives like #WeChooseReuse and the New ERA collective.” said Jeannette Morath, Founder, of reCIRCLE AG. 


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