Reduction, recycling… what's in the EU provisional agreement on packaging?


Even though recycling rates have increased in the EU, the amount of waste generated from packaging is growing faster than the amount recycled. Over the past decade, the amount of packaging waste has increased by nearly 25% and is expected to increase by another 19% by 2030 if no action is taken. For plastic packaging waste, the expected increase is 46% by 2030. In this context, the Council presidency and the European Parliament’s representatives struck a deal las week to make packaging more sustainable and reduce packaging waste in the EU.

The proposed text, known as the Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR), considers the full life-cycle of packaging. The deal is provisional, pending formal adoption by both institutions.

Here are the main points of the provisional agreement between Member States and the European Parliament:

1. Reduction targets

The text imposes on EU Member States a binding target to reduce packaging waste by 5% by 2030 (compared to 2018), then 10% by 2035, and 15% by 2040. Optional targets specifically concern plastic packaging waste

2. Collection, recycling, deposit return systems (DRS)

This is the core piece of the text: all packaging must be recyclable from 2030 and actually systematically recycled by 2035.

To maximize recycling, at least 90% of packaging materials (plastic, wood, aluminium, glass, cardboard, etc.) must be collected separately by 2029.

Furthermore, by 2029, member states will have to ensure the separate collection of at least 90% per annum of single-use plastic bottles and metal beverage containers. To achieve that target, they are required to set up deposit return systems (DRSs) for those packaging formats. However, there are possibilities for exemptions.

3. Recycled content

The provisional agreement maintains the 2030 and 2040 headline targets for minimum recycled content in plastic packaging. The co-legislators agreed to exempt compostable plastic packaging and packaging whose plastic component represents less than 5% of the packaging’s total weight from those targets.

4. Bio-based plastics

By 2027, the Commission will have to assess the state of technological development of bio-based plastic packaging and to lay down sustainability requirements for these packaging solutions.

5. Empty space in packaging

The new rules seek to reduce unnecessary packaging by setting a maximum empty space ratio of 50% in grouped, transport and e-commerce packaging.

6. Single-use plastic packaging

As far as the beauty sector is concerned, the agreement provides for the ban of single-use plastic packaging by January 1, 2030 of small cosmetic and toiletry products used in the accommodation sector (e.g. shampoo or body lotion bottles).

7. Reusable packaging

Legislation sets binding levels of packaging reuse for various sectors including e-commerce, household appliances, drinks, beer, etc.

8. PFAS

The text of the provisional agreement strengthens the requirements for substances in packaging by introducing a restriction on the placing on the market of food contact packaging containing per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFASs) above certain thresholds.

However, the agreement does not include the ban on bisphenol-A which will be addressed in another text.

The provisional agreement will now be submitted to the member states’ representatives within the Council (Coreper) and to the Parliament’s environment committee for endorsement. If approved, the text will then need to be formally adopted by both institutions, before it can be published in the EU’s Official Journal and enter into force. The regulation will be applied from 18 months after the date of entry into force.



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