Fruit and vegetables in Spain no longer sold in plastic packaging from 2023

by Lorraine Williamson
plastic packaging
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MADRID – In order to reduce the waste mountain, the Spanish government is issuing a royal decree that should stimulate the sale of loose fruit and vegetables. From 2023, these fresh products may no longer be sold in plastic packaging. 

The decree, which the Ministry of Ecological Transition is currently finalising, will be published shortly, according to department sources. The ban on plastic packaging materials will apply to all fruit and vegetables under one and a half kilos. The same measure will come into effect in France in 2022. 

“Undress fruit” 

According to a government spokesperson, the government wants to ban plastic packaging “effectively against the excessive use of packaging, because all limits on its use have already been exceeded”. International environmental organisations such as Greenpeace have been campaigning for years to end plastic packaging in retail under the motto “undress fruit”. 

However, the packaging ban will not apply from 2023 to all foods that spoil quickly when sold separately. A list of these products will be compiled by the Spanish Food Safety Agency. For other products, consumers must bring their own reusable containers or bags to the store to transport their purchased goods. 

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Fewer plastic bottles 

The future measure will also encourage governments to install large drinking water tanks in public areas. And also curb the sale of single-use bottles and cups during events. With the decree, the Spanish government wants to reduce the sale of plastic drinking bottles by 50% by 2030. In addition, all bottles that are sold must be 100% recyclable. 

Deposit on bottles 

According to environmental movements, it is high time that Spain introduced a well-functioning packaging recycling system. For example, unlike a number of other EU countries, Spain does not have a deposit on bottles. According to Ecologistas and Acción, the Spanish government still does not provide clarity about whether or not such a ‘return system’ is introduced when the new decree is presented. 

Coalition partners PSOE and Unidas Podemos agreed last week that the deposit system will only be introduced if the target for waste separation of plastic bottles is not met. For example, by 2023 at least 70% of all plastic bottles sold must end up in the separated plastic waste. By 2027, that should be 85%. However, Ecologistas en Acción doubts whether the calculation of these percentages is reliable, and hopes that the European Commission will come up with a general rule in this regard. 

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