In the period 18-26 November, the European week for waste reduction takes place. Its main aim is to raise awareness about the proper management of resources and waste and to encourage practical activities to deal with the problems caused by different types of waste. The leading theme this year is related to packaging – reducing its use, reusing it, separate collection and recycling.
RIOSV – Veliko Tarnovo is participating in the campaign. Together with the Regional Laboratory, the paper collected from the office premises will be sent for recycling.
The inspection organizes educational initiatives with children, schoolchildren and students from Veliko Tarnovo in partnership with the packaging waste recovery organization “Eco Partners Bulgaria” EOOD. On November 22, students from VTU “St. St. Cyril and Methodius” and students from PMG “Vasil Drumev” and SU “Emilian Stanev” will visit the separation installation for packaging waste in the town of Veliko Tarnovo. RIOSV will hold an activity with the children from the “Sonya” kindergarten in Veliko Tarnovo on the topic “To keep it clean around us” on November 23, and the next day – a lesson on waste, with a clean-up campaign, with the graduates of the “AzBuki” ChNU in Belyakovets village. As part of the initiatives, a lesson with students from the “American College-Arkus” ChPG, Veliko Tarnovo, is also planned.
More on the 2023 theme: Packaging (source: https://ewwr.eu/)
In our daily life, packaging helps us store, protect, transport, and even present all kinds of goods. It is present in all steps along the chain from producer to consumer. However, packaging has a huge impact on the environment.
In terms of primary material use, 40% of plastics and 50% of paper used in the European Union are intended for packaging. At the same time, as a final product, they represent 36% of solid household waste. The total generation of packaging waste in the EU increased from 66 million tonnes in 2009 to 78.5 million tonnes in 2019 (about 173 kg per inhabitant).
The COVID-19 pandemic may have further fueled the trend due to more internet sales, more supermarket sales for food consumed at home instead of restaurants, and more takeout.
Once packaging becomes waste, it is sorted between recyclable and non-recyclable packaging waste. From 2012 to 2020, the amount of non-recyclable packaging is increasing. The situation is further aggravated by the significant amount of recyclable waste that, due to the lack of recycling infrastructure and the unprofitability of the recycling process, ends up in landfills. Moreover, a relevant part is not even collected, and this affects the environment, especially the marine one.
To address this situation, in December 2020 the Commission set a target that all packaging could be reused or recycled in an economically feasible way by 2030, with the aim of reducing packaging, over-packaging and therefore packaging waste . The role of waste prevention is key to achieving the goal.
Why is prevention key to reducing packaging’s environmental impact?
The environmental impact of packaging varies depending on the material. Plastic packaging is the most carbon-intensive material, with a total of 1.8 tonnes of CO2 equivalent (CO2e) emitted over the life cycle of one tonne of plastic packaging. This is followed by paper/cardboard and glass, which have emissions of 809 and 565 kg CO2e per tonne respectively. Wooden packaging has 19 kg of net CO2e emissions per tonne (source: Eunomia report from December 2021 based on EUROSTAT data). An assessment of the Commission’s early warning reports so far reveals that plastic is the most challenging packaging waste stream in terms of recycling. The assessment found that 19 Member States may be at risk of not meeting the 50% recycling target in 2025. The main reasons for not meeting the recycling targets are low levels of separate collection of plastic packaging waste. This further clarifies how important it is to promote the prevention of packaging waste, as recycling alone cannot be the answer.
Why is packaging a suitable sector to move towards a circular economy?
The demand for packaging, together with low levels of reuse and recyclability, leads to the constant need for non-renewable primary resources. Finally, while the generation of greenhouse gas emissions from packaging continues to rise – projected to reach 66 million tonnes of CO2e in 2030 – packaging waste has severe consequences, particularly for the marine environment. Avoiding excessive packaging and improving separate collection can significantly reduce the phenomenon of waste disposal and increase the quality of material ready for recycling.
The role of the European Waste Reduction Week
European Waste Reduction Week focuses on packaging for the second time in its history (the first time was in 2016). Even after 7 years, this topic continues to be key in terms of waste generated, which has not been reduced but pushed forward with the growth of the e-commerce sector. The aim of the campaign is to raise awareness of the strong impact of packaging on the environment by providing information, ideas and support to promote more sustainable consumer behaviour.