In the mid-1980s, for the first time, the European Union introduced measures to manage packaging waste. Directive 85/339/EEC established rules relating to production, marketing, use, recycling and refilling of containers of liquids as well as the disposal of packaging waste.
To address the different environmental impacts of packaging and packaging waste, certain Member States have started introducing measures regarding this issue. As a result, divergent national policies have appeared; a situation harmonized at the European level. Thus, the directive 94/62/ EC was adopted in order for national measures regarding the management of packaging and packaging waste and the prevention or minimization of the consequences for the environment to be harmonized.
The transposition of the Directive into national legislation was adopted under Law 2939/2001, which set out general rules regarding alternative management of packaging waste, the rules for all the participating bodies that are obligated to manage packaging waste, the terms and conditions concerning alternative management of packaging and packaging waste, the conditions of approval and operation of alternative management packaging systems and the principal goals of recovery and recycling of packaging waste at the national level. (Source: eoan.gr).
Since then, have been many legislative amendments, which developed the contemporary requirements and the “alternative management of packaging and other products”, increasing the percentage of recycling that has to be achieved in order to keep pace with the European Directives.
Packages are segregated according to their materials in: a) glass, b) plastic, c) paper, d) metal (aluminum, tinplate), which are the most frequent packages. There are also the e) synthetic, f) wooden and g) mixed.
Plastics are made from natural raw materials, including natural gas and crude oil. There are many different types of plastic available, each one for a separate use. Plastic is used in our daily lives from making toys to creating parts for a spaceship or an airplane. Its use is inexhaustible, so consequently, the needs for oil extraction for its creation are correspondingly great, with all the known effects on the environment.
The production of one tonne of plastic requires a great amount of power as well as natural raw materials. This requires the drilling of the soil.
It should also be noted that a plastic bottle will need about 450 years to decompose completely while the consumption of its contents may take us only a few minutes, especially on a hot summer day.
On the other hand, if we recycle our plastic packaging and then use them as raw material:
- we would be able to save important natural raw materials,
- we would need less energy to recreate plastic,
- we would be able to send much lower amounts of garbage to the landfill. In this way, we could reduce the volume of the garbage sent to the landfill and increase their lifespan.
It is known that plastics are oil derivatives and as such, they can potentially become dangerous for our health and the environment. Any plastic packaging that is not recycled is likely to contaminate food and water, as well as cause fire as it is highly flammable material.
Therefore, “source separation” must be applied effectively by citizens. This means that citizens should separate their waste according to its material which should be cleaned and discarded separately in the appropriate bin.
Every day materials
How to save/ reuse
It should always be considered a matter of priority as to whether a plastic package can be reused for the same use for which it was created or whether its general reuse is possible in any way.