At the end of the last year, the European Commission presented a proposal for a new packaging regulation.
Its creation was preceded by the identification of the EU’s basic problems. More and more packaging waste is being generated and Directive 94/62/EC has failed to reverse this trend, despite specific provisions on minimising the use of packaging. The trend of increasing packaging waste has been exacerbated by new consumption patterns such as on-the-go consumption, increased online sales and home deliveries. In the European Union, the annual production of packaging waste was estimated at 173kg per inhabitant in 2018. Compared to 2009, this figure represents an increase of 27kg of packaging waste.
Packaging composition and barriers to recycling and reuse are also an issue. In particular, the increased use of elements in packaging design that prevent recycling, substances in packaging that can be hazardous, but also unclear labelling of packaging for sorting purposes is a problem. As a consequence, it is not possible to make reuse and recycling take precedence over recovery and landfill. However, the poor quality of plastic packaging recycling and the use of secondary raw materials is also a problem, limiting the EU’s ability to reduce the use of virgin substances in new packaging.
Given the shortcomings identified, the overarching objective of the legislative proposal is to reduce the negative environmental impacts of packaging and packaging waste and to improve the functioning of the internal market.
The specific objectives to be achieved by the proposed regulation are:
- Reducing packaging waste
- Cost-effective promotion of packaging waste management
- Promoting the use of recycled content in packaging
The adoption of the new regulation is expected to reduce waste, reduce greenhouse gases and avoid environmental externalities by 2030. At the same time, the overall recycling rate of packaging in 2030 is expected to increase by 6.5% and landfill is expected to decrease by 9%. The promotion of circularity will also have the effect of reducing the demand for primary raw materials such as wood, glass and aluminium. The shift towards a more circular economy in packaging use should bring benefits in terms of consumer empowerment, reduced negative impacts on the environment and human health, a decrease in the EU’s dependence on imports of raw materials and fossil fuels, stimulating innovation and economic growth.
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 provide further information on the new rules contained in the proposal for a Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation in due course.
The draft Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation can be found here.