The Law of 21 March 2017 on packaging and packaging waste, as well as the Law of 9 June 2022 amending (1) the Law of 21 March 2012 on waste, as amended; and (2) the Law of 31 May 1999 establishing an environmental protection fund, as amended, aim to combat pollution, limit the harmful use of non-recyclable products, and promote a circular and sustainable economy.

These two pieces of legislation demonstrate legislators’ ongoing commitment to environmental protection. By adopting these laws, legislators seek to encourage a transition towards a more sustainable society that respects nature.

They also highlight the need to adopt policies focused on sustainability, waste reduction and the promotion of a circular economy to preserve natural resources and combat climate change.

The Law of 21 March 2017 on packaging and packaging waste (the “Packaging and Waste Law” or the “Law“)

The Packaging and Waste Law emphasizes prevention as a priority for reducing packaging waste, while highlighting other essential principles such as reuse and preparation for reuse of packaging, recycling and other forms of recovery of packaging waste.

The main aim of the law is to increase the time prior to final disposal of this waste to promote a circular economy, where materials are reused, recycled or recovered, thereby helping to minimize the environmental impact and optimize the use of resources.

The Law introduced a series of measures to sustainably reduce packaging consumption in Luxembourg (Article 5, Packaging and Waste Law):

  • Limit the annual consumption of lightweight plastic bags per person, with specific unit reduction targets from 2019 to 2025, with the exception of very lightweight bags;
  • Prohibit the free distribution of plastic bags at points of sale, with the exception of very light bags;
  • As of 1 January 2025, prohibit the free distribution of specific single-use products (beverage cups with their closures and lids, food containers (with the exception of beverage containers, plates, and bags and packaging containing food), regardless of their size or material, at points of sale of merchandise or products);
  • Displaying packaging prices at points of sale; and
  • Reducing the sales price of a good to anyone who forgoes the packaging.

The Law also sets precise targets for packaging waste recovery and recycling for those responsible for packaging (Article 6 §1, Packaging and Waste Law):

  • Recovery target: 65% by weight of packaging waste must be recovered or incinerated in waste-to-energy plants; and
  • Recycling target: the law sets minimum recycling targets for the various materials contained in packaging waste, with specific percentage rates for glass, paper, cardboard, metals, plastics and wood, it being specified that these targets must be achieved between 2025 and 2030.

It is important to note that anyone violating Article 5 of the Packaging and Waste Law may be subject to an administrative fine of between EUR 250 and EUR 10,000.

For violations of Article 6 §1, the Packaging and Waste Law provides for a prison sentence of 8 days to 3 years and a fine of EUR 251 to EUR 750,000.

The Law of 9 June 2022 amending (1) the Law of 21 March 2012 on waste, as amended; and (2) the Law of 31 May 1999 establishing an environmental protection fund, as amended

The Law of 9 June 2022 gives a new definition of the objective pursued by the amended Law of 21 March 2012: it establishes measures to safeguard the environment and human health. It aims to prevent or reduce waste production and the harmful effects resulting from waste production and management. It also seeks to reduce the overall impact of resource use and improve resource efficiency. These actions are essential if we are to move towards a circular economy and maintain long-term competitiveness.

This law also introduces measures to reduce waste in Luxembourg. To that end, the law provides in particular that:

  • The placing of advertising material on vehicles is prohibited (Article 12 §6);
  • Throwing confetti, streamers and other festive projectiles onto the public roads is forbidden if they contain plastic or metal (Article 12 §6);
  • From 1 January 2024, it will be forbidden to deposit and distribute commercial advertising material in letterboxes, unless the addressee has given his or her explicit consent, with the exception of the free press (Article 12 §7);
  • As of 1 January 2025, containers such as trays, plates and cutlery used for home meal delivery services or takeaway meals must be reusable and recoverable (Article 12 §9);
  • rom 1 January 2025, all new washing machines will be equipped with a filter designed to capture plastic microfibers (Article 12 §10);
  • The marketing of any substance in the form of a microplastic, whether alone or in a mixture, and intentionally present in a concentration equal to or greater than 0.01% of the total weight of the sample of material containing this microplastic, will be prohibited. This ban does not apply to natural, non-chemically modified or biodegradable microplastics (Article 12§10); and
  • From 1 January 2024, supermarkets with a sales area in excess of 1,500 square meters will be required to install the necessary equipment for the separate collection of municipal waste on their premises. This equipment must enable the separation of waste such as paper, cardboard, glass, plastic, portable batteries and accumulators, metal packaging, composite packaging and very small electrical and electronic equipment waste.

In addition, sorting quality must be monitored at these facilities. Supermarkets are also required to visibly inform consumers of the existence and operation of these waste sorting facilities (Article 13 §7).

Violations of Article 12 paragraphs 6, 7 and 10 are punishable by a fine of EUR 24 to EUR 10,000.

By Renaud LE SQUEREN, Partner, and Kubilay YILMAZ, Associate, DSM Avocats à la Cour.