What is stipulated in the EU Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation?

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The latest regulation is the Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR), also known as the EU Packaging Regulation. The EU Parliament has passed this by a majority and it is expected to be adopted by the EU Council of Ministers in 2024.

The EU regulation stipulates that certain single-use plastic packaging will be banned throughout the EU from 2030. These include, for example:

  • Packaging for unprocessed fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Packaging for food and drinks that are filled and consumed in cafés and restaurants
  • Single portions (e.g. spices, sauces, cream, sugar)
  • Miniature packaging for toiletries
  • Very lightweight plastic carrier bags (less than 15 µm)

The PPWR also specifies the recycling rate for plastic packaging and a target:

  1. From 2030 (and to a greater extent from 2040), packaging should contain 35% to 65% recyclates – i.e. recycled materials. In addition, all new goods should be recyclable or reusable. This assumes that they are single-material solutions. The only exceptions to this are packaging made of light wood, cork, textiles, rubber, ceramics, porcelain and wax.
  2. In future, groupage, transport and e-commerce packaging may only contain a maximum of 50% empty space in order to avoid unnecessarily large packaging. The weight and volume of packaging must also be minimized. Plastic film makes a major contribution here.
  3. So-called “Forever Chemicals” (perfluorinated and polyfluorinated alkyl substances or PFAS) in food contact packaging will be capped in future in order to avoid harmful effects on health.
  4. Packaging for alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages must be reusable from 2030, unless it is milk, wine or spirits. In addition, “to go” drinks and food must also be able to be packaged in their own containers if the purchaser so wishes, although this is already regulated in Germany by the Packaging Act (VerpackG).

No national law is required for implementation: the Packaging Ordinance will apply throughout the EU after a transitional period of 18 months following its entry into force. All packaging regulations in force in Germany that contradict the PPWR are therefore automatically invalid.

The draft for the “Act for Less Packaging Waste” of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (www.bmuv.de) from 2023 must therefore now be checked for compatibility with the new EU regulation. The law is intended to regulate “deceptive packaging”, i.e. packaging that makes the volume of the packaged product appear larger.

What is prescribed for stretch film in the packaging and packaging waste regulation?

In the final stages of negotiations between the Commission, Council and EU Parliament, the target for a reusable quota for transport packaging was probably inadvertently raised from 10% to 40%. For transports within a nation and for transports between affiliated companies within the EU, it has even been raised to 100%.

This is not feasible due to a lack of alternatives and would result in a massive increase in transport volumes on European roads. Unfortunately, this change is irreversibly enshrined in the current trilogue. Although the EU Commission very quickly announced in a delegated act that it would remove stretch film from the 100% reusable requirement from 2030, this may take some time. Until then, the industry is unsettled, even though stretch film offers numerous advantages:

  • Stretch films already meet most of the PPWR’s objectives.
  • Stretch films meet all recyclability requirements.
  • Stretch films can already be produced today with 35 % PCR recycled material. This is the target that will apply from 2030.

The Industrial Association for Plastic Packaging Bad Homburg shows the background: https://newsroom.kunststoffverpackungen.de/en/2023/11/22/k-disappointed-by-short-sighted-discrimination-against-plastics/

EUMOS European Safe Logistics Association warnt vor nicht berücksichtigten Auswirkungen für Transportsicherheit: https://eumos.eu/eumos-position-on-the-draft-eu-packaging-packaging-waste-regulation-ppwr/

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