Last week, we participated in the European Week for Waste Reduction (EWWR)!
The European Week for Waste Reduction (EWWR) encourages all Europeans and not only to carry out awareness-raising actions about sustainable resources and waste management during a single week in November.
This year, the thematic focus is on packaging. Packaging waste accounts for 36 % of municipal solid waste.
Why is prevention key to reducing the environmental impact of packaging?
The environmental impact of packaging varies based on the material. Plastic packaging is the most carbon-intensive material, with a total of 1.8 tonnes of CO2e emitted for the lifecycle of one tonne of plastic packaging. The main reasons for not meeting the recycling targets are the low (in Cyprus non-existent) separate collection rates for plastic packaging waste. This clarifies even more how important is to promote packaging waste prevention since recycling, alone, cannot be an answer.
Friends of the Earth raise awarenes and advocate for reusable solutions through this campaign about the strong environmental impact of packaging. Stay tuned more info on the plastic crisis and what we do at a local level to promote reuse systems in municipalities in Cyprus.
Plastic Pollution Generally
What do all these apples have in common? Over-packaging! 🍎
In our quest to reduce plastic pollution, phasing out single-use plastics (SUP) is crucial. Did you know that over a third of plastic produced is packaging, most of it single-use? It’s time to rethink how we package things. Reusable packaging should be the new norm!🔄
The solution to stop this packaging pollution chain is logical: the less packaging we produce, use, and discard, and the less materials we extract, the better for our environment and society. This is why it is crucial to think upstream: rethinking and redesigning packaging so that these products are toxic-free, circular by design, and contribute to regenerating ecosystems instead of polluting them.
By redesigning packaging with circularity in mind, it is possible to reduce the use of hazardous chemicals, reduce food waste, and get rid of 75% of the waste currently being exported, thus mitigating climate change impact through reducing carbon footprints.
EU rules and our positions
Now let’s talk about the solutions of plastic crisis by looking at some points from the recent EEB briefing, “Prevention and Reuse – the Only Solution to Record Levels of Packaging Waste.” 🌍
Q:Why don’t we just shift from plastics to single-use paper, it’s green, renewable, recyclable?
A: Some of the largest polluters in the packaging value chain, led by single-use paper producers ,conducted a massive lobbying campaign to greenwash paper as a sustainable alternative to single-use plastics and reuse. New research proved this is a false solution.
Q: Is reuse really better than single-use?
A: In line with the waste hierarchy, extensive independent scientific literature illustrates the potential of reusable packaging systems compared to single use. Well-designed systems can reduce waste at source, cut energy, emissions, resource and water use, and create jobs and business opportunities.
“Bio-degradable” products are false solution as well, as many require specific conditions to break down, conditions that are rarely met in conventional disposal systems i.e landfills.
The problem has nothing to do with the material, but with the culture behind it. The solutions that have been emphasised so far continue to be based on the single-use logic, which says that it is okay to produce products and packaging that end up in the trash after 5-10 minutes. The PWWR Directive had the ambition to change that..
This week, unfortunately, the parliament surrendered to aggressive lobbying from the single-use packaging industry. There was no vote to support crucial reuse targets (Art.26) and address unnecessary packaging (Art.22 & Annex V) in the PPWR directive.
- Read the full briefing by EEB here
- Read the recent press release by ZWE on the decision of the parliament here
ERIC and call to action
FoE Cyprus are partners in ERIC (Elevating Reuse in Cities) project, which aims to combat single-use plastic and empower 18 to 30 EU cities to prioritize reuse.
Our aim is to collaborate with municipalities, embed waste prevention locally, through the creation of customised Plastic Prevention Plans (PPPs).
If you were a municipality in Cyprus, what actions would you include in a PPP? Submit your idea here: https://forms.gle/QpGibKrPmi6n7EjR9
Sustainable reuse systems and plastic reduction are not just a one-week effort but a daily commitment.
“Cities can, and should, become the incubators and vectors for scaling up reuse in Europe.”🌎💚
You can find some cool resources from our networks: