Plastic packaging must be recyclable by 2030, but alternatives are lacking

Plastic cups.
Plastic cups. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

By 2030, half of all plastic packaging in Estonia must be recyclable according to a European Commission directive. Campaigners say work must begin today but supermarket Rimi believes there is currently no good alternative.

Head of Representation in Estonia at the European Commission Keit Kasemets said: "The year 2021 will, yes, deal well with specific products, i.e. single-use dishes and products such as straws and cotton buds. The goal for 2030 is that 55 percent of plastic products should be recyclable or reusable by then."

The rules which will come into force in 2021 will not apply to plastic packaging, such as ready-to-eat food boxes.

Kasemets said the aim is not to ban plastics but to direct consumers, companies and countries so plastic does not end up in landfill sites or polluting the environment.

Margit Rüütelmann, the head of the Estonian Association of Circular Economies, said that work must be started now if the goals for 2030 are to be met.

She said people are lazy and because the deadline seems far away work can be delayed - and it will seem sudden when it comes.

Rimi's responsible business manager Katrin Bats said there is currently no good alternative to plastic in the food industry and it is not possible to manage without it.

"The reason why plastic was created at the time was to ensure food safety and prolong its life. In other words, it has actually been a great help in reducing food waste," she said.

Bats believes it is currently difficult to make long-term plans for plastic packaging as new solutions are being created all the time: "It seems to me that the packaging industry is currently in an era like the beginning of the 90's in the Estonian economy, where there are many new innovative solutions."


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Editor: Helen Wright

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