The EU Commission wants to ensure that all packaging in the EU will be recyclable by 2030.
In addition, significantly more packaging than before is to be reused.
This emerges from a comprehensive legislative proposal by the Brussels authorities, which the responsible Vice President Frans Timmermans and Environment Commissioner Giedrius Sinkevičius presented on Wednesday.
For the first time, the proposal contains uniform target values for packaging waste per Member State and per capita.
These are to be reduced by 15 percent by 2040 compared to 2018.
Timmermans spoke of a "revolution" for the packaging industry.
Currently, around 177 kilograms of packaging waste per capita and year are generated on average in the EU.
Germany is the leader with almost 226 kilograms.
If no action is taken, there will be a further increase in packaging waste in the EU by 2030 by 19 percent, and plastic packaging waste by as much as 46 percent, said Sinkevičius.
With the new regulations, waste generation can be reduced by around 37 percent, both through reuse and recycling.
Timmermans complained that over the past 20 years, the ability to reuse or refill certain packaging has greatly diminished.
Specifically, the EU authority is proposing to ban certain types of packaging altogether.
This includes single-use packaging for food and beverages consumed in restaurants and cafes, single-use packaging for fruit and vegetables, miniature shampoo bottles and other miniature packaging in hotels.
Furthermore, companies should offer a certain proportion of their products in reusable or refillable packaging.
This applies, for example, to drinks and meals to take away or online deliveries.
In addition, some packaging formats are to be standardized and clear labeling of reusable packaging is to be prescribed.
Compared to the first drafts of the package, the Commission has softened the regulations, especially the prescribed percentage of products that have to come onto the market in reusable packaging.
According to the Commission's verdict, its proposal has benefits for business and consumers alike.
While single-use packaging manufacturers “need to invest in change,” encouraging reuse will generate more than 600,000 jobs in the industry by 2030.
"We expect very innovative packaging solutions that pave the way for reduction, reuse and recycling," the agency said.
At the same time, consumers could save almost 100 euros a year if companies passed on their savings.
The new proposal is over 200 pages.
It is now being discussed by the member states and the European Parliament, who can change it.
The economic policy spokesman for the EPP Group, Markus Ferber (CSU), recalled the Commission's commitment to propose a different law for each new law that could be abolished.
When asked which law this was in the specific case, Timmermans replied that it was not his job to answer that.
"We are here to make new proposals."
Ferber criticized that "Surrealism" had "now officially left the museum".
With the new package on the circular economy, a huge wave of bureaucratic burdens threatens to roll over European companies.
The CSU politician conceded that the intended harmonization of the packaging regulations would eliminate the "patchwork" of different regulations.
However, this should not be accompanied by “unrealistic recycling quotas” for the industry.
Otherwise medium-sized companies in particular, which are already heavily burdened by the extremely high energy prices, would be pushed out of the market.
The EU Commission is proving once again "how far removed it is from the reality of the people in its ivory tower".
The Central Association of German Crafts (ZDH) was more cautious.
Its general secretary Holger Schwannecke said that the ZDH supports the concern to use materials and substances in such a way that they "provide benefits in products for as long as possible and are not irretrievably lost as waste".
However, the Commission must ensure that the already considerable reporting and verification requirements are reduced.