Small plastic bottles of shampoo will dissapear by 2030. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)


EU to ban miniature hotel shampoo bottles in sustainable packaging deal


Tiny shampoo bottles in hotel rooms will be banned, while takeaways will have to let you bring your own container, under new EU rules to cut waste.

The EU is set to ban single-use plastic packaging formats and forever chemicals in a push for more sustainable packaging, after an agreement between the European Parliament and European Council.

Businesses will have to give consumers more chances to bring their own, reusable bags and containers, while free or cheap tap water in bars and restaurants will be the rule by 2030.

“For the first time in an environmental law, the EU is setting targets to reduce packaging consumption, regardless of the material used,” said rapporteur Frédérique Ries, a Renew group MEP.

“We call on all industrial sectors, EU countries and consumers to play their part in the fight against excess packaging,” Ries added.

Miniature packaging for toiletry products, like the small shampoo bottles often found in hotels, will be banned, as will shrink-wrap for suitcases in airports.

The EU will also ban certain single-use plastic packaging formats.

These including packaging for unprocessed fresh fruit and vegetables, along with packaging for foods and beverages both filled and consumed in cafés and restaurants, and plastic packaging for individual portion of condiments, sauces, creamer, and sugar.

Extremely thin plastic carrier bags—less than 15 microns—are prohibited too unless they are necessary for hygienic reasons, or serve as the main container for loose food, to reduce food waste.

All packaging should be recyclable, under the new guidelines, and will need to meet stringent requirements that a subsequent law will outline. There are exemptions planned for a few lightweight materials, like wood, cork, textiles, rubber, ceramics, porcelain, or wax.

In the food service industry, final distributors of beverages and takeaway would need to offer their customers the choice of bringing their own container.

By 2030, they will also need to provide ten per cent of their products in reusable packaging.

Meanwhile vendors of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages will need to sell ten per cent of their products in reusable packaging by 2030. (This excludes milk, wine, aromatised wine, and spirits). Under specific circumstances, member states can also grant a five-year exemption from these rules.

The EU will aim for ninety percent of single-use drink containers (of up to three litres) made of plastic or metal to be collected separately. It also wants all plastic container components to have minimum goals for recycled content.

Member states will also need to offer incentives to eateries, canteens, bars, cafés, and catering services to supply tap water in reusable or refillable formats, either for free or at a small service charge.

The EU will prohibit so-called “forever chemicals” (per- and polyfluorinated alkyl chemicals, or PFASs) from food contact packaging to prevent harmful health impacts.

The European Union produced 188.7 kg of packaging waste per person in 2021, in the most recent data from Eurostat, the European Statistics Office.

This amount differs massively between nations. The average Croatian, for instance, generated 74 kg of packaging waste in 2021, compared to 246 kg per person in Ireland–which produces the EU’s most packaging waste per person.

Now member states have to vote on the agreement in the European Council, after which the European Parliament and Council need to formally approve the final agreement before it can enter into force.