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Less packaging: What the new plastics law means for the environment and consumption

Posted on June 09 2021

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July 3, 2021 is the date when the EU's new law, which aims to significantly reduce the use of plastic packaging, comes into force. This will have an impact on consumption in all member states and, due to close trade relations, also on Switzerland. Why the new law is so important and what will change - find out more here.

In order to promote sustainable packaging options and protect the environment, the EU has passed a law banning certain types of packaging altogether. For example, the following items will be banned starting in July:

  • Packaging and filling material made of so-called EPS - the abbreviation stands for "expanded polystyrene," more commonly known as Styrofoam.
  • Disposable plates and other tableware - even if they appear to be paper plates at first glance, these items pose a particular challenge from a recycling perspective. This is because a paper-thin plastic film prevents soaking and makes reuse difficult.
  • Plastic cutlery and plastic drinking straws as well as other plastic beverage accessories.

Styropor Verboten


We produce too much waste!

It makes sense that certain products need packaging - beverages, for example. But why do you find portion-wrapped vegetables in the stores? Packaging helps keep products fresh longer and reduce food waste. But we often forget that many products are already packaged very efficiently by Mother Nature: in their own shells.
Another trend feeding the packaging overload is online retailing. Especially during the pandemic, more people ordered everyday items over the Internet: tiny orders in a huge cardboard box, lavishly filled with Styrofoam. This is now to come to an end. And that's a good thing - because in Switzerland, each individual produced 715 kilograms of waste in 2016!


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Consumers can help!

With the new law, the EU now wants to compel manufacturers to be more sustainable. But consumers should also play their part. Anyone who automatically reaches for packaged products when shopping is promoting the harmful side of the packaging industry. Even those who think that collecting and separating packaging is enough are wrong. This is because it is not uncommon for the waste to end up in an emerging country and be recycled in a non-sustainable manner or even be left there. That's why it's more effective to start where your own waste is generated - at the point of purchase:

  • Buy more unpackaged food, for example at the weekly market, or take your own packaging with you.
  • Have a small thermos with you instead of Coffee2Go.
  • Take cloth bags with you and wave goodbye to plastic bags or paper bags in the department store.
  • Drink tap water or use an aerator - after all, the cartridges go into the recycling.
  • If it's going to be packaged, choose glass containers rather than plastic. After all, glass is eminently recyclable, and reusable bottles are an ideal solution for beverages.

Müllhalde


Proper disposal remains important

Few consumers succeed in completely eliminating packaging waste through a consistent lifestyle. That is understandable. That's why disposing of waste properly is an important contribution to environmental protection. Thanks to online services such as abfall.ch, households can compile their own "waste calendar" based on their zip code and even send it electronically to their cell phone or print it out as an ICS file. Textiles, hazardous waste and organic waste? All collection data at a glance and according to your needs. With a practical waste calendar like this, you can make a contribution to recycling without any effort.

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