Cans of Camembert threatened by Brussels? French MEPs tabled amendments on Wednesday to exclude these traditional wooden packaging from a regulation on recycling which is to be voted on next week in the European Parliament. This text, proposed in November 2022 by the European Commission in order to reduce waste, notably imposes recycling objectives for all packaging from 2030. It is the subject of intense hostile lobbying from companies. “The wooden boxes used to package cheeses like Camembert do not have a dedicated recycling channel, because it would be too expensive to create a logistics chain,” explained Macronist MEP Stéphanie Yon-Courtin, originally from Normandy.
His group, Renew Europe (centrists and liberals), at the request of the French delegation, tabled an amendment to claim that the recycling obligation does not apply to wooden packaging (camembert boxes, Mont-d' gold, oyster baskets, trays of strawberries, etc.) nor to wax packaging (which concerns, for example, Babybel). They demand that the European Commission produce a report to assess the availability of recycling infrastructure for these types of packaging, as well as the environmental benefit of the obligation to recycle them, before possibly deciding to subject them to it.
“Before asking to recycle wooden boxes, there is already a lot to do on plastic packaging,” also argues MEP Jérémy Decerle (Renew), former president of the Young Farmers union. The text had, however, received a first green light from the European Parliament's environment committee in October. “If we want to caricature Europe before the elections, we start to annoy Camembert producers and their wooden packaging... that makes everyone jump!” commented the French Secretary of State in charge of Europe, Laurence Boone, during a meeting Tuesday evening with journalists. “We have to do recycling, we have to encourage companies to use recyclable packaging, we have to. Afterwards, we need a little pragmatic realism and not annoy the Camembert producers,” she said.
Amendments were also tabled by French MEPs François-Xavier Bellamy and Arnaud Danjean from the PPE group (right) and by Catherine Griset (ID group, far right) in order to exclude wooden packaging from the scope of the regulations. On the other hand, German MEP Delara Burkhardt (Socialists and Democrats group), also involved in the matter, seemed less sensitive to the fate of the emblematic Normandy cheese: “the requirement for the wooden packaging of Camembert to be recyclable must stay,” she said.