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The sale of fruits and vegetables in plastic containers will be prohibited in Spain in 2023
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By: payless

The sale of fruits and vegetables in plastic containers will be prohibited in Spain in 2023

The sale of fruit and vegetables in plastic containers will be prohibited in retail businesses (both neighborhood stores and supermarkets) in Spain from 2023. It is one of the measures contemplated by the royal decree on packaging and waste that the Government is finalizing and that the Ministry for the Ecological Transition is about to release public information, according to sources from this department. The rule also contains measures to promote the sale of bulk and non-bottled water.

In EnglishSpain to ban sale of fruit and vegetables in plastic wrapping from 2023

The veto on packaging in the case of fruit and vegetables will apply to batches weighing less than one and a half kilos. It is a ban similar to the one included in the French anti-waste law, which will come into force in that country in 2022. The Spanish Executive seeks to "combat the overuse of packaging in the most effective way", details a ministry spokeswoman. The same sources warn that plastic pollution "has already exceeded all limits" to justify this veto. Inside and outside of Spain, various environmental NGOs, such as Greenpeace, have been launching campaigns for years under the slogan "naked the fruit" to pressure small businesses and large supermarkets to stop plasticizing these fresh products.

Vice President Teresa Ribera's department is finalizing the text of the draft, but has already held meetings with business associations and with the most important environmental organizations to convey to them some of the main lines of action of the royal decree, which should also serve to transpose several European standards and thus incorporate them into the Spanish legal system. According to the information that has been transmitted, foods "at risk of deterioration when sold in bulk" will be excluded from the ban on plastic containers. The list of products will be set by the Spanish Agency for Food Safety and Nutrition.

More informationTwo new green taxes: on single-use plastic containers and on landfillsThe not-so-circular journey of household waste in Spain

Julio Barea, from Greenpeace, agrees with the veto on plasticized fruit, although he warns that it is important to analyze “how it will be applied” in the end. Regarding the rest of the royal decree, this activist believes that the Executive is not going fast enough to "radically cut off the flow of plastic pollution." "We drink plastic, eat plastic and breathe plastic," Barea warns about the effects of pollution that he describes as a "pandemic."

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The decree also contemplates the obligation for administrations to "promote the installation of drinking water sources in public spaces." And the duty to "implement alternatives to the sale of packaged beverages" and the "distribution of single-use cups" at public events also from 2023, according to information provided to environmental groups.

For retail businesses, the Government provides measures to promote the bulk sale of fresh products without packaging. These establishments, for example, must allow customers to bring their own reusable containers to be refilled, although certain conditions of cleanliness and suitability will be established by the businesses.

reusable containers

Among the general objectives of the royal decree, the goal is to achieve a 50% reduction in the sale of plastic bottles for beverages in 2030, always according to the information that the Government has offered to the main actors in the sector. And it is marked that by the end of this decade, 100% of the containers that are put on the market will be recyclable.

In the documentation sent by the ministry to the NGOs, objectives are also specified for the promotion of reusable containers —for example, the hardest plastic or glass bottles that can be used on several occasions—. In the case of hotels, restaurants and cafes, 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 goals are much less ambitious: 10% of beverage containers in general in 2025 and 20% in 2030.

One of the great battles of both this royal decree and the waste law that is being processed in the Congress of Deputies is the implementation of a system for the deposit, return and return of containers, as it exists in some countries of the European Union. However, in Spain it is a source of dispute between some environmental organizations, supporters of this model, and Ecoembes —the company in charge of managing the majority of domestic packaging—, which resists its implementation.

Carlos Arribas, responsible for the waste area of ​​Ecologists in Action, explains that the ministry continues to leave open the possibility of urging the implementation of this system (which implies that the consumer must leave a few cents as a deposit for each container, which are returned when the bottle returns). The text of the bill that the Executive sent to the Congress of Deputies in May was quite ambiguous and simply states that it can be implemented.

PSOE and United We Can agreed last week on a joint amendment in Parliament that serves as a guide to know what the coalition government intends to do. This deposit and return system will only be implemented in the event that the objectives of separate collection of plastic bottles are not met. In 2023, at least 70% of the weight of the packaging placed on the market must have been collected for recycling; in 2027 it will have to have reached 85%. If these goals are not met, the deposit and return system will be implemented, according to the amendment of the Socialists and United We Can. The problem is that environmentalists claim that the current system with which the percentage of recovered packaging is counted is not reliable. “The European Commission is expected to unify the way in which this matter is accounted for,” explains Arribas.

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