Proposal for a regulation on packaging and packaging waste – suistainability and packaging redesign

25. 7. 2023

Late last year, the European Commission presented a proposal for a new Packaging Regulation, which brings with it a number of changes, including requirements for packaging sustainability in terms of packaging minimisation and recyclability, with the potential to increase recycling rates and reduce environmental impacts. This Regulation also complements the Ecodesign Regulation for sustainable products.

The proposal for a Regulation regulates the sustainability requirements for packaging in Chapter II. The basic sustainability requirements include limiting concentrations of substances of concern as components of packaging material, recyclability of packaging, minimum recycled content in plastic packaging, compostability of packaging or minimisation of packaging.

According to the requirement for recyclable packaging, all packaging must be recyclable.

Packaging is considered recyclable if it meets the following requirements:

  • It is designed for recycling purposes
  • The collection effectively sorts
  • It is sorted into defined waste streams without affecting the recyclability of other waste streams
  • It can be recycled in such a way that the resulting secondary raw materials are of sufficient quality to replace the primary raw materials
  • It can be recycled on a large scale

From January 2030, packaging must meet the criteria of the recyclability concept. From 2035, the requirements will be further tightened to ensure large-scale recycling.

From January 2030, packaging shall not be considered recyclable if it corresponds to performance grade E under the design for recycling criteria.

Closely linked to the recyclability requirements for packaging is the payment of financial contributions by producers under extended producer responsibility, which will be modulated according to recyclability performance grades (ecomodulation).

In addition to the recyclability of packaging, there will also be restrictions on the marketing of specific packaging formats, such as:

  • films for group packing of products, shrink wraps in retail stores,
  • nets, bags, pads and single use containers for up to 1,5 kg of vegetables or fruit, unless there is a demonstrable need to avoid loss of water or freshness,
  • single use packaging used in the HORECA sector (plates, cups, coasters, etc.) and hotels (packaging with a volume of less than 50 ml or a weight of less than 100 g, e.g. bottles for hand creams and body lotions, bags for miniature soaps),

The regulation also requires the weight and volume of packaging to be minimised, with due regard to safety and functionality. Compliance with this requirement will be demonstrated by technical documentation. The definition of empty space is also new. It stipulates that the empty space shall be reduced to the minimum necessary for ensuring the packaging functionality as follows:

  • for sales packaging, in relation to the total volume of the packaged product and its characteristics;
  • for grouped and transport packaging, including e-commerce packaging, in relation to the total volume of the grouped or transported products and their sales packaging;

A empty space is defined as a space that is filled with air cushions, bubble wraps, sponge fillers, foam fillers, wood wool, polystyrene or other materials used to fill the space. It will also be prohibited to market packaging with:

  • double walls
  • false bottoms
  • unnecessary layers

The new regulation should lead to a reduction in packaging waste. The aim is to reduce packaging waste per capita by 5% by 2030, 10% by 2035 and 15% by 2040.

Decree No. 259/2023 Coll., which amends Decree No. 371/2015 Coll. of the Ministry of Environment of the Slovak Republic, implementing certain provisions of the Waste Act, as amended, is effective as of 1 July 2023. More information can be found here.

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 as we go along.

The proposal for a regulation on Packaging and Packaging waste can be found here.