On December 18, 2023, in Brussels, at the Environmental Council meeting an agreement was reached on the proposal for a regulation on packaging and used packaging, the purpose of which is to prevent the generation of packaging waste - to reduce its amount, to limit unnecessary packaging and to promote reusable and refillable packaging solutions. Latvia was represented at the Council meeting by the Minister of Environmental Protection and Regional Development Inga Bērziņa.
Latvia generally supports reducing the amount of excessive and unnecessary packaging, including the ban on repackaging. At the same time, it is essential that reducing the consumption of packaging does not increase the production of food waste or endanger food safety.
Minister of Environmental Protection and Regional Development Inga Bērziņa: "We are on the way to an agreement so that the generation and processing of packaging waste meets the principles of the circular economy. It is important for us to arrive at solutions that would be acceptable to local entrepreneurs and would benefit the environment and, therefore, society in the long term. We thank the Spanish Presidency for its contribution, and we also wish the Belgian Presidency productive discussions in trilogues with the European Parliament."
The purpose of the proposal for the packaging regulation is to prevent the generation of packaging waste - reduce its quantity, limit unnecessary packaging and promote reusable and refillable packaging solutions. The proposal of the packaging regulation is intended to remove obstacles to the circulation of packaging. So that by 2030, all packaging on the EU market is recyclable. Also, the purpose of the proposal for the Packaging Regulation is to reduce the need for primary natural resources in the production of packaging and to create a well-functioning market for secondary raw materials by increasing the use of recycled plastic in packaging with the help of mandatory targets.
The Latvian delegation called for flexibility in the proposal for the regulation regarding the requirements for the management of used packaging, including the requirements for the operation of the producer's extended responsibility system and deposit system. Representatives of the delegation pointed out the disproportionate requirements for re-use and refilling. Reusable packaging is not always the optimal solution for all product categories. Reuse and refill targets should be considered provided they are technically and practically feasible and provide measurable environmental benefits compared to single-use alternatives.
The council meeting also discussed the proposal for a directive on soil monitoring and sustainability. This proposal introduces a soil monitoring system and defines what constitutes healthy soil, and determines what to do with contaminated and potentially contaminated areas. It will form the basis for sustainable soil management to maintain or improve soil health and thereby promote healthy and resilient soils across the EU by 2050. The proposal for a directive will help Member States to promote the ability of soils to provide diverse ecosystem services that are essential for both human health and the environment.
The Council meeting also discussed the proposal for a regulation on a sustainable European forest monitoring system. The aim of this proposal is to develop an EU-wide forest monitoring system that would support the coordinated and effective implementation of existing EU policies in the field of environment, biodiversity, climate, energy and bioeconomy. It would provide common, digitized, comparable, timely and accessible data and create a coherent framework for the development of integrated long-term forest plans. The proposal of the forest monitoring regulation is aimed at better data and knowledge acquisition about forests.