Packaging and recycling: The European Union follows science related to plastics, unlike Italy

Packaging and recycling: The European Union follows science related to plastics, unlike Italy

We hope that Europe will have the ambition to translate the principles contained in the various community directives approved in recent years into concrete actions, and finally provide Ambitious and binding targets aiming to prevent the generation of waste favor the increased use of reusable packaging. These are the guidelines that must be followed to create a true circular economy and to significantly reduce our dependence on raw materials and hydrocarbons such as Gas and oil from which plastic is produced.

According to the latest data from Ispra (Higher Institute for Environmental Protection and Research), Only half of the plastic packaging released for consumption in our country finds new life in recycled products. The other half is burned in incinerators, disposed of in landfills or released into the environment. Figures that show how far we are from a real turnaround in this sector. In addition to exacerbating environmental pollution, these shortcomings translate into higher costs to society. In fact, the Italian contribution to the European plastics tax amounts to 760 million euros, a measure created to encourage recycling at the expense of non-recyclable parts.. The contribution of each member state of the union is calculated on the amount of non-recycled plastic packaging which, in Italy, must be covered at least partially by the national plastic tax (which was recently deferred by the government).

Regarding the proposed regulation, a heated debate has erupted in Italy in recent weeks between reuse and recycling. In our opinion at Greenpeace, this is a misleading narrative, given that recycling and reuse are synergistic measures rather than contradictory as Minister Pichetto Fratin and industry have led us to believe. If the obligation to use packaging made of recycled plastic is included in the European proposal, it is necessary to develop high-performance recycling chains based on efficient collection systems such as, for example, deposit on deposit or DRS for beverage containers.

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Concerning reuse instead, according to statements highlighted by recent work of the United Nations, in the context of the “Life Cycle Initiative” – where a comprehensive review of key studies based on a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology found in the literature was conducted by Science International – The environmental benefits of reusable products (including packaging) are significant compared to disposables, regardless of the type of material. So much so that many European countries (eg Austria, France and Portugal) and some multinational companies (eg Coca-Cola) have already chosen to resort to increasing the quantities of reusable containers in the coming years.

Our government and Minister Becito Fratin, instead of engaging in background ideological battles without scientific basis, have changed their approach by following science. Only in this way will they be able to lead the single-use plastics sector towards a future with less impact on the environment. If the current guidelines of the executive branch, which have already been translated into concrete actions with the recent postponement of the plastic tax, continue, our country will turn its back on the sea and the environment, continuing to give new life to a polluting sector based on a production logic that belonged to the past. The situation in Italy is even more paradoxical given that Uruguay is currently discussing a global treaty to end plastic pollution, on which Italy has yet to express a position.

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