PPWR: Agreement on more sustainable packaging in the EU
Recycling, Reduce

PPWR: Agreement on more sustainable packaging in the EU

27/05/2024 | 3 min read
Konrad Wasserbauer

Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation: Early March, the Council presidency and European Parliament’s representatives reached a provisional political agreement on a proposal for a regulation on packaging and packaging waste. In mid-March, the text was also approved by representatives of Council member states and the Parliament’s environmental committee. The aim is to tackle the packaging waste increase generated in the EU, while harmonizing the internal market for packaging and boosting circular economy. The proposal covers the entire life cycle of packaging: Requirements are introduced to ensure that packaging is designed to be sustainable requiring that all packaging is recyclable and the use of recycled materials is minimized. The proposal also aims to set binding reuse targets, restrict certain types of single-use packaging, and require economic operators to minimize the packaging used. 

The most important points in detail:

  • All packaging must be recyclable by 2030, and it must also be effectively recycled by 2035. 

  • The provisional agreement sets 2030 and 2040 headline targets for minimum recycled content in plastic packaging. For example, a PCR (post-consumer recyclate) proportion of 10% applies to food applications for PP and PS, 30% PCR for PET, and 35% PCR for non-contact-sensitive applications. 

  • The new rules will reduce unnecessary packaging by setting a maximum empty space ratio of 50% in grouped, transport and e-commerce packaging. Manufacturers and importers are required to ensure that packaging weight and volume are minimized. 

  • The text sets new binding reuse targets for 2030 and indicative targets for 2040. Targets vary depending on the type of packaging used by operators: alcoholic and non‑alcoholic beverages*, transport and sales packaging** and grouped packaging. Cardboard packaging is generally exempted from those requirements. 

  • Take-away businesses are required to offer customers the possibility of bringing their own containers to be filled with cold or hot beverages or ready-prepared food, at no additional charge. Additionally, by 2030, take-away activities must endeavor to offer 10% of products in packaging formats suitable for reuse. 

  • Under the new rules, by 2029, member states must 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.  

  • The new rules introduce restrictions on certain packaging formats, including single-use plastic packaging for fresh fruit and vegetables, small cosmetic and toiletry products used in the accommodation sector (e.g. shampoo or body lotion bottles) and very lightweight plastic bags (e.g. those offered at markets for bulk groceries)

Let's talk about PCR!

Konrad Wasserbauer
Director Circular Economy

Greiner Packaging’s assessment of the PPWR

"The PPWR is opening up many opportunities to rethink and engage ourselves as Greiner Packaging: We strive to consciously shape the recyclability of our products together with our customers. As a packaging generalist, we aim to develop the right future solution for every material and redesign the supply chain together with our partners. The PPWR also provides the basis for expanding our existing reuse business in line with demand.”

Konrad Wasserbauer, Global Director Circular Economy bei Greiner Packaging

Future-oriented packaging innovation

New in the regulation’s packaging assessment is the definition of so-calles “self-separating components,” i.e. packaging components that can be separated from each other by mechanical stress during transportation after collection or during sorting. “ For us, this means the solution scope for product innovations, which we at Greiner Packaging have already demonstrated and anticipated with the K3® r100, is being drawn in a new and future-oriented way,” adds Wasserbauer.

K3® r100

The K3® r100 is Greiner Packaging's new self-separating packaging innovation: cardboard wrap and plastic packaging are separated from each other during the waste disposal process without human intervention. Excellent recyclability is therefore not dependent on correct separation by the end consumer, but happens completely independently during the disposal process. 

*excluding wine and aromatized wines, milk and other highly perishable beverages
**excluding packaging used for dangerous goods or largescale equipment and flexible packaging in direct contact with food 

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