"European Week for Waste Reduction" aims to wrap up plastic pollution – for good

21 November 2023 by John Whitfield
blog author

​​Plastic packaging is the bane of our lives and often very unnecessary, when you consider items such as oranges, avocados and bananas are already packaged in their natural ‘wrapping’. Yet, they are often still covered in plastic before hitting supermarket shelves, adding to the plastic pollution crisis.

Therefore, it probably comes as no surprise that a colossal 180kg of packaging waste is generated by individual Europeans annually, prompting last year’s announcement of a potential new regulation by the European Commission to reduce such pollution. The proposal focuses on decreasing virgin materials, pushing forward reuse and refill systems to reduce packaging and make all EU packaging recyclable by 2030.

This bold sustainability measure to evoke radical change is wholly supported by the European Week for Waste Reduction campaign (Nov 18-26), which has resharpened its lens on a packaging theme this year to amplify the urgent adjustments that need to be made to clean up Europe.

What is European Week for Waste Reduction?

The initiative, which was launched 15 years ago, aims to highlight the urgent, sustainable behaviour required towards packaging consumption and its impact on the planet.

The campaign aims to raise awareness surrounding best practice, the environmental impact of packaging, and will also provide ideas and support for more sustainable consumption activity.

A spokesperson for European Week for Waste Reduction, said: “Every year, millions of tonnes of litter end up in oceans, beaches, forests and elsewhere in nature. The primary causes of this littering issue are our society’s unsustainable production and consumption patterns, poor waste management strategies and a lack of awareness of citizens.

“In order to counteract its adverse effects, the European Week for Waste Reduction encourages participants to educate their peers about waste prevention; and to clean up those areas where littering is impeding the well functioning of natural and human habitats.”

How can I get involved in European Week for Waste Reduction?

Click here to find out more about participating as either a business, organisation or an individual.

John Whitfield, Head of Sustainable Business, Acre Europe, said: “I applaud initiatives such as European Week for Waste Reduction, which is a sure-fire way to ensure Europe is on target with tangible solutions for a green economy.

“The campaign is steered by local and regional public authorities and is backed by schools, businesses, NGOs and other organisations, all collectively working towards the same goal – highlighting the urgent need for waste reduction.

“With this dedicated week and the European Commission’s proposal for a more robust regulation to help prevent packaging waste, businesses and consumers must step up their efforts and unite for greater impact.”

The European Commission, which aims to cut plastic pellet pollution by 74 per cent before the end of the decade, also announced a ban on glitter this autumn. Glitter, which contains microplastics, can be a hazard to human and animal health as well as the environment due to being small enough to pass into the lungs and bloodstream.

Why is the European Commission proposing a more stringent waste reduction regulation?

According to the European Commission, packaging waste in the EU soared by more than 20 per cent over the past decade, a figure which is heading to increase by another 19 per cent by 2030 under the current production and consumption system.

Currently, 40 per cent of plastic and 50 per cent of paper used in the EU is destined for packaging, with plastic packaging waste forecast to rise to 46 per cent in 2030.

Sustainable measures such as reuse, refill, banning avoidable packaging and minimising packaging all aim to meet the target, with the proposal strongly favouring the recyclability of all packaging to promote eco packaging and better inform consumers.