At a Stakeholder Series event hosted in collaboration with McDonald’s, MEPs from The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) Party questioned the revised Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive’s ability to reduce carbon emissions and water waste by implementing reusables at dine-in restaurants. 

Moderated by Martin Hojsík MEP, ‘The Road to Circularity – Boosting Recycling Rates in Europe’ sought to provide insight into the proposals laid out in revisions to the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive. Its panel of experts from the public and private sectors took particular issue with mandating reusable materials in dine-in restaurants, which could apparently intensify carbon emissions and water waste. 

Packaging waste is said to have increased by 20% in the last ten years – 40% of which is made up of plastics and 50% of paper materials utilised in Europe. However, Nils Torvalds MEP expressed his concern over the Commission’s proposed countermeasures, believing them to be rushed, unworkable, and lacking in an impact assessment for different kinds of packaging. 

“Everyone in the Parliament agrees we have too much packaging waste, but the proposed measures provided a lot of unpractical answers,” said Torvalds in his opening address. “Upstream from packaging coming to your door, and downstream from that, have very different technical structures.” 

Johan Aurik, chairman Emeritus at Kearney, continued to assert that evidence-based legislation is key to making effective and impactful progress, as is protecting the investment in relevant infrastructure.  

In his view, two out of three of the 300,000 SMEs set to be impacted by the proposals are independent and may not have the correct resources to put these measures in place – as such, mandatory reuse could lead to a 1500% increase in plastic waste and a higher surge in carbon emissions when logistics are taken into account.  

“It is very important that there is specificity,” he said. “The right metrics and the right set of solutions that allow flexibility in this sector in a successful way.  

“Make legislation that is written so different paths can be achieved, and chosen by different industries, different sectors, and different markets. There must be scalable solutions to invest in long-term.” 

These statements come in light of an announcement from McDonald’s that it will evaluate and report on the impacts of reusable packaging on single-use solutions and the environment. A comprehensive study is expected to be published early next year.  

A cross-industry coalition representing the hospitality and beverage industries and packaging value chains in Europe has also warned that the inefficient rollout of reuse and refill schemes under the proposal for a Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation could cause issues for businesses and consumers alike, and calls for an improved impact assessment