Spain is to ban the use of plastic food wrappings and containers commonly used to package fruit and vegetables.
The new decree which has been drafted by the Ministry for Ecological Transition will come into force from 2023 in a bid to encourage users to purchase loose vegetables when shopping in local retail stores and supermarkets.
The ban will only affect fruit and vegetable produce weighing less than 1.5 kilograms, however, there will be some products that will escape the ban if they are at risk of deteriorating when sold loose.
The move will also aim at reducing the number of single-use plastics that are used especially in the sale of plastic drinking bottles.
The decree aims to incorporate European Union rules into Spanish law and will mirror the legislation which is set to come into force in France by 2022.
A spokesperson for the ministry told El País that the aim was to “fight the overuse of packaging in the most effective way,” adding that plastic pollution has “exceeded all limits” justifying the new measures.
In addition, the goal will be to make packaging 100% recyclable by 2030 along with reducing the number of plastic bottles being sold by half.
In a document sent by the ministry to NGOs (Non-Governmental Organisations), the objective is to promote the reuse of alternative containers such as those made from harder plastic or glass bottles that can be used several times.
In the case of hotels, restaurants and cafeterias, it is proposed that 50% of the packaging sold in 2025 be reusable. In 2030 it should reach 60%. In the case of beers, 80% is set in 2025 and 90% in 2030. And for soft drinks, the goals are 70% and 80% respectively. In the case of sales for home consumption, the targets are much less ambitious: 10% of beverage packaging in general in 2025 and 20% in 2030.
The decree also includes the obligation for administrations to install drinking fountains within public spaces in a bid to further reduce the sale of plastic bottles. The use of single-use plastic drinking cups and containers at public events is also being considered as a part of the drive.
Green groups welcomed the ban although many believe that the government is not acting quickly enough to “radically cut the flow of plastic pollution”.
Julio Barea, a spokesperson for Greenpeace told El País, “We drink plastic, we eat plastic and we breathe plastic,” describing the contamination of plastic as a “pandemic”.
Spain generates around 1.6 million tonnes of plastic packaging waste each year, however, only half of this is recycled. Two-thirds of what ends up in landfill is not recycled.