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Plastic waste on the beach (in Kiel)

Photo: Petra Nowack / penofoto / IMAGO

In the future, a more far-reaching ban on single-use plastic in hotels and restaurants will apply in the European Union than before.

The negotiators from the European Parliament and member states agreed on a law on Monday evening, according to which small portions of salt and sugar as well as fruit and vegetables may no longer be packaged in plastic.

However, the member states still have to approve the new rules.

In the EU, at least 15 percent less packaging should end up in the trash by 2040.

From 2030, in addition to the regulations for the catering industry, the compromise stipulates, among other things, a ban on plastic films for suitcases in airports and light plastic bags in supermarkets.

However, packaging made of paper and other materials remains largely permitted.

Majority in member states is shaky

According to the agreement, food packaging will no longer be allowed to contain so-called perpetual chemicals that are particularly long-lasting and are considered harmful to health.

The parliamentary negotiator, Frédérique Ries (Liberal), spoke of a “big victory for the health of consumers”.

The member states should set up deposit systems for single-use plastic bottles and beverage cans.

The packaging industry should also comply with mandatory reusable quotas in the future.

However, in the beverage sector, according to the compromise, up to five companies can join together to achieve the goals together.

The federal government campaigned for such a regulation in Brussels.

Environment Minister Steffi Lemke (Greens) said this would “make the transition easier for many companies.”

The German beverage industry had previously warned that the new EU requirements could threaten the German reusable system.

The European Paper Packaging Alliance (EPPA) industry association in Brussels had also criticized the packaging directive because it could “lead to a flood of hard plastic products on the European markets,” which ultimately end up in rivers, seas and landfills.

For environmentalists, however, the EU initiative did not go far enough.

Packaging should generally be recyclable from 2030.

This caused anger in France because the new regulations would also have affected the traditional wooden box around Camembert cheese.

At the urging of several French MEPs, the law now provides an exception for packaging made of wood and wax.

In addition, medical products are exempt from the recycling requirement.

There is currently an average of around 190 kilograms of packaging waste per person in the EU every year.

According to experts, without additional measures, the number could rise to more than 200 kilograms by 2030.

The EU's first single-use plastic ban came into force in 2021.

Since then, cutlery, plates, straws and cotton swabs made of single-use plastic as well as Styrofoam packaging for food are no longer allowed to be sold.

The European Parliament and the Council of EU states still have to approve the agreement reached on Monday evening, which is considered a formality.

However, the approval of the member states is shaky: Italy's government is against the law, and there is currently no common position in the German federal government on the new rules.

If Germany abstained, a majority would no longer be secure.