European Union votes on new packaging rules

On 22 November, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) voted in favour of a position paper concerning EU-wide rules aiming to increase the reuse and recycling of packaging.

In a plenary vote, 426 MEPs voted in favour with 125 against, and a further 74 abstentions.

The agreed positions in the report included:

  • A 5% packaging reduction by 2030, 10% by 2035 and 15% by 2040
  • A ban on very light weight carrier bags, other than where they are required for hygiene reasons or for loose food products
  • A ban on certain single-use packaging items such as miniature toiletry products found in the hotel sector
  • Member States will be asked to ensure 90% of packaging materials (paper and cardboard, plastic, wood, ferrous metals and glass) are separately collected by 2029

“A missed opportunity”

The report and MEP vote represents a stage of passing the Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR), a new iteration of the current Directive. The targets, however, outlined in the report have been met with criticism.

Managing Director of Plastics Europe, Virginia Janssens, has said: “Although Plastics Europe welcomes a number of decisions taken by the European Parliament, we believe today’s Plenary vote was a missed opportunity to strengthen this critical piece of regulation and create the incentives for the huge investments needed to make plastics packaging circular.

“It is unfortunate that the decision by the Environment committee to reduce the recycled content targets for contact-sensitive packaging has not been reversed in Plenary. This is a missed opportunity to use the Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation to boost the development of the market for recycled plastic packaging in Europe.”

Impact across the EU and UK

Zero Waste Europe, has said the agreed policy positions are ‘watered down’ and favour recycling over packaging waste reduction measures such as reuse and refill.

Once the European Council has formally adopted its overall position on the new regulations, it will begin discussions with individual Member States.

The UK government has made no indication it will follow suit and adopt similar measures as the PPWR progresses into European legislation, but packaging producers trading in both the UK and Europe will have to consider the impacts to their business and trading practices.

If you need support with international compliance, visit our international compliance services page to find out how we can help.


Written by Louisa Goodfellow Published 27/11/2023 Topics International
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