The ‘European Green Deal: Putting an end to waste packaging, boosting reuse and recycling’ was proposed by the European Commission on the 30 November 2022.
The draft legislation will now go through the legislative process ahead of becoming a directive. The proposals constitute a revision of the existing legislation on Packaging and Packaging Waste, transposed to UK law post EU-exit, and also feed into the wider Circular Economy Action Plan, which broadly aims to “make sustainable products the norm”.
Key aims and targets
The proposals have three key aims: to reduce the overall quantity of waste via restriction of unnecessary packaging and promotion of refill systems; to increase valuable recycling and secondary material availability; and to ensure all packaging is recyclable by 2030.
These are underpinned by a number of targets that include:
- To reduce packaging waste by 15% by 2040 of each Member State per capita, compared to 2018 figures
- Business will have to offer reusable and refillable options for a certain amount of their packaging products
- Building on the Single-use Plastics Directive, further products may be banned, including miniature shampoo bottles and single-use food containers used in hospitality venues
The European Commission’s press release states that if the proposed measures were achieved, greenhouse gas emissions resulting from packaging waste would be reduced by 23 millions tonnes, and water use by 1.1 million cubic metres.
Impact on industry
Explaining the impact of the new rules, the Commission says that for industry they would create new business opportunities, decrease the reliance on virgin materials, boost European recycling capacity and ensure the packaging market is closer toward environmental neutrality by 2050.
The draft legislation also sets out clearly situations where biobased, compostable and biodegradable plastics are appropriate and the most environmentally beneficial option, which is a regulatory rarity, and something the UK could certainly consider.
The draft legislation represents ambitious action, and opportunity for much increased circularity. It remains to be seen as to how far the UK will follow, although it is thought that government will look at the measures in line with our own packaging reforms being implemented.
A step in the right direction
Commenting on the draft legislation, Ecosurety Innovation and Policy director, Robbie Staniforth, said: “As ever the EU continue to be global leaders in environmental policy. This extensive draft legislation provides a vital direction of travel on, not just recycling, but refill and the use of novel alternative materials.
"Packaging producers urgently require guidance and rules to create a level playing field that ensures better environmental outcomes for packaging. This legislation is a giant step in the right direction.”