Are the EU’s proposed new packaging regulations fit for purpose?


Could the proposed wide-ranging revisions to the EU’s Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive cause more harm than good in their current iteration? Isabell Schmidt and Martin Engelmann of the IK German Plastic Packaging Association, which represents around 300 mainly SMEs in the areas of plastic packaging and plastic film, give their perspective on how the revisions could be improved – and the parts they think might benefit the industry.

The European Commission’s proposal for an EU Packaging Regulation, published on 30 November 2022, offers an opportunity for the sustainable transformation of the packaging industry. Plastic packaging manufacturers in Germany have invested in the recyclability of their products and are ready with innovative solutions that combine high material efficiency with high-grade recyclabi lity and the use of recycled materials. In order not to jeopardise sustainable transformation, the regulation should be adopted before the European Parliament elections in 2024.

However, the draft also contains considerable economic and ecological risks for misguided decisions, which should be corrected in the legislative process. This concerns above all mandatory recycled content quotas for contact-sensitive packaging (e.g. for food and dangerous goods) and the discrimination of packaging made of plastic. Also, all delegated acts that concretise the sustainability and labelling requirements for packaging should be timed and industry should be given the opportunity to have its say.

In detail, we welcome the following points in the EU Commission’s proposal:

Replacing the previous directive with a regulation – directly effective for companies and member states – facilitates the enforcement of harmonised packaging rules in the EU internal market and protects the free exchange of mostly packaged goods from the growing patchwork of national packaging bans, labelling and design requirements. Harmonised packaging rules are also necessary because only they enable the necessary economies of scale for the economic transformation towards an EU-wide circular economy.

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Packaging Europe, 24-02-23