Legislative proposal for a regulation on packaging and packaging waste – introduction to the issues

16. 5. 2023

Late last year, the European Commission presented a proposal for a new packaging regulation with the aim of halting the growth of packaging waste amount. The fundamental change is that this law will take the form of a regulation with direct legal binding force in all Member States. The new regulation should lead to harmonisation of rules across Member States. It contains a range of new measures, such as reducing the amount of packaging waste, limits for the amount of reused and recycled material in packaging, recyclability criteria, the mandatory introduction of deposit systems and improved labelling.

The amount of packaging waste produced in Europe has increased since 2000 and is set to increase further by 2030 according to the European executive, so change is essential to reverse the negative trend. Packaging is one of the products whose production relies on virgin materials. If this were not addressed, Europe would see a 19% increase in packaging waste by 2030 and, specifically, a 46% increase in plastic packaging. The proposed new rules are designed to stop this increase while contributing to cost-effective circulation and ensuring the mandatory recycled content in packaging.

Key changes and requirements in the draft regulation:

  • new requirements for the production and design of packaging (mandatory recycled content in packaging, recycling properties of packaging, minimisation of packaging size, prohibited packaging formats)
  • new obligations for economic operators
  • creation of a re-use scheme for reusable packaging
  • eco-modulation – according to the recyclability performance classes according to which producers have to pay financial contributions in order to comply with the obligation arising from the extended producer responsibility (EPR).
  • harmonisation of the labelling of packaging and containers for the separate collection of packaging waste

A number of new obligations and requirements covered by the regulation should enter into effect gradually in stages and manufacturers should be able to adapt. However, the regulation also contains numerous references to legislation yet to be developed.

The proposal is currently in the legislative process, where it must be examined by the European Parliament and the Council of the EU.

A new Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation is expected to be adopted by 2024.

We will post further information on our website already on 31 May, where we will focus on the main objective of the regulation, namely the prevention and reduction of packaging waste.

The draft Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation can be found here.