The Ministry for the Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge prepares a royal decree to regulate packaging and waste that states that in 2023 it is forbidden to sell fruits and vegetables in plastic containers and that beverages are offered in reusable containers in all retail establishments. The largest ones must offer up to seven different references and dedicate part of their space to bulk sales that consumers will store in their own bags or containers, bottles included.
The measures, focused on the reuse of packaging and recycling, will impact consumers mainly in these two aspects. In the case of retailers, in addition to relevant changes in recycling, must enable zones and inventory to meet the demands, while manufacturers will have to strive to increase the percentage of recycled plastic. In any case, from 2023 there will be less and less of this material in supermarkets.
“It is scandalous that they sell a banana surrounded by plastic,” he sums up. Carlos Arribas, responsible for waste at Ecologistas en Accin. The organization highly values a measure that could solve something “completely absurd”, but believes that the limitation by number of references in the case of reusable products falls short. In practice, he regrets, it can be solved with a small number of drinks that do not really force a supply according to demand. “The consumer has the right to be offered a reusable reference of the products they consume,” argues Arribas.
The Government’s objective is to reduce the total weight of packaging waste, by 13% in 2025 and by 15% in 2030, in both cases with respect to the 2010 data. In addition, they expect that in 2030 all packaging put into the market are 100% recyclable and, whenever possible, reusable.
Sources of FIAB, the Spanish Federation of Food and Beverage Industries, fear that it will not be possible to achieve this point: “Our concern is that in order to comply with legal requirements we have available PET and recycled plastics in quantity and of the necessary quality to be in contact with food “. As of today, they explain “we believe that it will not be possible to have availability for all companies that choose to incorporate recycled plastic and PET into their packaging.” They are also concerned about “the high impact” that a “radical change in their structures and business models” would have on companies that could put their viability “at risk”.
Meanwhile, retailers ask that these measures be very clear and, above all, take into account the entire value chain. Thus, for example, they remember that they are not the ones who package the fruits, but that it depends on the supplier and is done due to various logistical implications, product duration or use of these. “An analysis of the economic, social and environmental implications is necessary,” he explains. Mara Martinez-Herrera, responsible for food safety and environment of ASEDAS.
“The packaging is not done for pleasure,” he continues. “That does not mean that you have to work on seeing which packaging is superfluous and could be removed,” he adds. Also, remember that “a rational use of plastic does not mean banning plastic; or what we have to do is recycle it well, so that it does not end where it does not have to.”
With regard to the sale in bulk, which is already “being promoted”, Martnez-Herrera once again appeals to the dialogue: “We want you to be clear about it.” “We cannot leave this control of hygiene in the hands of supermarket workers,” he explains, referring to the amendment to article 18 presented by the socialist parliamentary group and United We Can. It establishes that establishments with an area equal to or greater than 400 square meters must dedicate at least 20% of their sales area to products without packaging.
To do this, “they must accept the use of reusable containers” such as tpers, bottles or bags “appropriate to the nature of the product and properly sanitized.” The amendment puts this burden of packaging on the shoulders of consumers, but the final decision will rest with the merchant, who may reject them. “15 million people make the purchase every day; that must be taken into account”, recalls Martnez-Herrera and this will mean changes that will even reach the scales, which should be able to discount the grammage of the containers.
On the other hand, in article 9, dedicated to the reuse measures of the establishments, it is established that these stores must offer a minimum of references of beverages with reusable containers depending on its surface, in addition to providing the return service for reusable containers.
In the case of those with less than 120 square meters, the obligation will be limited to a single reference (that is, a single drink with a reusable container). Retailers of 120 to 300 square meters will increase the offer to a minimum of three references. In both cases, they will have a maximum period of 18 months to do so.
For their part, larger establishments will see the application period reduced to 12 months and must have at least four references (those of 300 or more square meters and less than 1,000), at least five (between 1,000 or 2,500 m2) or at least seven products if they exceed 2,500 square meters of surface. The minimum references, in any case, may be increased by ministerial order.
Again, from the sector they are open to it, but they request that the current reality be taken into account. The famous helmets of four decades ago are still present in the memory of many, but those 40 years have brought with them new customs and the industry has adapted to them. In addition, they remember that this would also have an environmental cost in logistics and the water used to recycle the packaging.
On the contrary, environmental associations consider that the measure could be much more ambitious. Thus, they believe that a supply of between one and seven products will be scarce: “We celebrate that the vector of reduction and reuse has finally been introduced, but it is not ambitious given the magnitude of the problem we have,” he argues. Rosa Garcia, CEO of Rezero. “This law should ensure the right of consumers to consume without generating waste and without affecting our health,” he continues, but falls short: “It is a drop in the desert.”
According to the criteria of
The Trust Project Learn more