Single-use paper packaging: a chance for Europe to achieve its climate ambitions [Promoted content]
For several years, packaging has been at the heart of our environmental policies for good reasons. The very existence of the North Pacific garbage patch – the famous seventh continent – is a reminder of the damage associated with non-renewable and non-recyclable packaging, and a call to action.
Eric Le Lay is the president of the European Paper Packaging Alliance (EPPA).
Despite the industry’s tremendous efforts to massively reduce its carbon footprint, increase the recycling of its products and tackle unnecessary waste, more needs to be done. It’s undeniable.
The European Commission’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 and to achieve a climate-neutral continent by 2050 underlines the urgency there is a need to accelerate to achieve these objectives.
European paper-cardboard packaging companies for food and catering products take this urgency into account and support the objectives of the European Commission’s Green Deal, the immediate priority of which is to revise the rules laid down by the Directive on packaging and packaging waste. It is indeed essential to review laws that are no longer adapted to the evolution of the environmental emergency.
And it is precisely because cardboard-based packaging companies are in favor of updating these rules that they want the robust and certified studies they have carried out to be taken into consideration by the European Commission. .
The request of these companies is simple: the revision of the Directive on packaging and packaging waste must above all be based on scientific evidence. Laws cannot be adopted on the basis of mere received – but unverified – ideas that reuse is “good by nature”, whereas single use is not. On the contrary.
Three simple and scientifically established facts can be safely stated: single-use paper-based packaging is renewable, recyclable and environmentally efficient.
They offer a more ecological solution than single-use plastic packaging and they surpass the performance of reusable packaging in terms of lower CO emissions.2 and energy and water consumption, knowing that paper has the highest recycling rate (82%) of all packaging materials in the European Union.
These results are drawn from a comparative life cycle analysis (LCA) recently published by the independent expert firm Ramboll, which is often called upon by the European Commission to carry out research on regulations in preparation and which is recognized for its independence and for the quality of their studies.
By comparing the overall environmental footprint of single-use paper-cardboard packaging with that of their reusable alternatives used in fast food, Ramboll found that in 6 of the 9 impact categories studied single-use paper-cardboard packaging presented “very significant” environmental benefits compared to multi-use packaging, particularly in reusable plastic.
The results are unequivocal: reusable systems generate almost three times more CO equivalent emissions2 and consume 3.6 times more fresh water than single-use paper-based systems due in particular to the consumption of water, energy and detergent linked to dishwashers.
Replacing single-use packaging with reusable tableware in fast food restaurants in Europe would thus be equivalent to adding one million petrol cars to Europe’s roads every year in terms of CO emissions.2 and the equivalent of fresh water consumption than a city of 750,000 inhabitants.
These figures are considerable. And if these results may seem counter-intuitive to some consumers and perhaps to the Commission itself, they are nonetheless factual and are based on an extremely thorough analysis.
These results must be taken into account during the next revision of the Directive on packaging and packaging waste and it is imperative that the rules which will be adopted are based on in-depth, standardized and certified research concerning the whole cycle. product life.
This position is shared not only by paper-cardboard packaging companies for food and catering products, but also by the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), which has underlined in recently published recommendations that the European Commission must focus on the complete product lifecycle before making packaging decisions.
There is no longer a shadow of a doubt. The European Commission must defend the solutions that achieve the best overall environmental results. And single-use paper packaging is one of those solutions.