Proposed Bill Aims to Standardize Plastic Bottle Recycling, Limit PET Imports
Proposed Bill Aims to Standardize Plastic Bottle Recycling, Limit PET Imports

Proposed Bill Aims to Standardize Plastic Bottle Recycling, Limit PET Imports

  • 18-Dec-2023 12:21 PM
  • Journalist: Robert Hume

A proposed regulation currently under consideration by the Ministry of Justice aims to legalize the utilization of recycled polyethylene terephthalate (R-PET), specifically reusing plastic bottles, for food packaging purposes. Polyethylene terephthalate (PET), a versatile plastic derived from petroleum, is commonly used for packaging both food and non-food items. The bill, initiated by officials at the Environmental Protection Authority but subsequently drafted by experts from the Ministry of Industry and the Food and Beverage Industry Research and Development Center a year ago, is currently in the review stage with stakeholders.

According to Bekele Mekuria, the director of the Food and Beverage Industry Research and Development Center, the absence of standards for reusing PET in food packaging necessitates the introduction of this bill. The proposed regulation falls under the framework of the 'Hazardous Waste Management and Disposal Control Decree Proclamation' established in 2018, and its primary goal is to establish a meticulous procedure for incorporating RPET into food packaging. The Ministry of Justice is currently scrutinizing the draft, and once their input is integrated, the final approval will be sought from the Council of Ministers.

The potential benefits of recycling PET for food packaging are significant. The initiative could lead to substantial cost savings, with estimates suggesting an annual reduction of up to USD 50 million in expenditures on PET imports. Additionally, it has the potential to create employment opportunities and contribute to the prevention of environmental pollution. Bekele emphasized that implementing regulations for the use of recycled materials is crucial for mitigating the adverse effects of inadequate plastic bottle waste management on human health, economic development, and environmental sustainability.

The proposed regulation is a comprehensive document comprising nine sections and over two dozen articles, delineating the roles and responsibilities of regulatory bodies, as well as individuals or organizations involved in the entire process. It covers various aspects, including the technology of PET material and goods production, control systems, compliance of PET recycling, and quality standards for the collection, storage, and production of PET intended for food packaging.

Once approved, this regulation is anticipated to attract investors interested in the packaging industry, providing them with the opportunity to import recycling technology and contribute to fostering a sustainable and environmentally conscious future.

The prospective rules set forth by the regulation would mandate recycling companies to label their products with details regarding the recycling process. Simultaneously, food producers would be obligated to inform consumers about the specific type of packaging being used, adding transparency to the supply chain and promoting environmentally responsible practices in the industry.

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