Interpretation and points of New EU packaging regulations: Bio-based plastic raw materials must be renewable

Interpretation and points of

New EU packaging regulations:

Bio-based plastic raw materials must be renewable

On Nov. 30,2022, the European Commission proposed new EU-wide rules to reduce packaging waste, promote reuse and refilling, increase the use of recycled plastic and make it easier to recycle packaging.


Environment Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius said: "We generate half a kilogram of packaging waste per person per day and under the new rules we propose key steps to make sustainable packaging the norm in the EU. We will contribute to circular economy principles - reduce, reuse, recycle - Creating the right conditions. More sustainable packaging and bioplastics are about new business opportunities for green and digital transformation, about innovation and new skills, about local jobs and savings for consumers.

On average, each European produces almost 180 kg of packaging waste per year. Packaging is one of the main users of virgin materials, as 40% of plastic and 50% of paper used in the EU is used in packaging. Without action, packaging waste in the EU could rise by a further 19% by 2030, and plastic packaging waste could even increase by 46%, the EU executive said.

The new rules aim to stem this trend. For consumers, they will ensure reusable packaging options, get rid of unnecessary packaging, limit excessive packaging, and provide clear labeling to support proper recycling. For the industry, they will create new business opportunities, especially for small companies, reduce the need for virgin materials, increase recycling capacity in Europe and make Europe less dependent on primary resources and external suppliers. They will put the packaging industry on a climate-neutral trajectory by 2050.

The committee also wants to provide clarity to consumers and industry about bio-based, compostable and biodegradable plastics: stipulating in which applications these plastics are truly environmentally beneficial, and how they should be designed, disposed of and recycled.

Proposed amendments to EU legislation on packaging and packaging waste aim to prevent the generation of packaging waste: reduce volumes, limit unnecessary packaging, and promote reusable and refillable packaging solutions; promote high-quality (“closed-loop”) recycling : By 2030, make all packaging on the EU market economically viable to recycle; reduce demand for primary natural resources, create a well-functioning market for secondary raw materials, increase recycled plastic in packaging through mandatory targets use.

The overall target is to reduce packaging waste by 15% per capita in each Member State by 2040, compared to 2018. Without changing legislation, this would lead to an overall waste reduction of around 37% in the EU. It will do so through reuse and recycling. To promote the reuse or refilling of packaging, which has declined dramatically over the past 20 years, companies will have to offer a certain percentage of their products to consumers in reusable or refillable packaging, such as takeaway drinks and meals or e-commerce deliver. There will also be some standardization of packaging formats, and reusable packaging will also be clearly labeled.

To address clearly unnecessary packaging, certain forms of packaging will be banned, such as single-use packaging for food and drink consumed in restaurants and cafes, single-use packaging for fruit and vegetables, miniature shampoo bottles and other packaging in hotels. Micro packaging.

A number of measures aim to make packaging fully recyclable by 2030. This includes setting standards for packaging design; establishing a mandatory deposit-back system for plastic bottles and aluminum cans; and clarifying which very limited types of packaging must be compostable so consumers can throw them into biowaste.

Manufacturers will also have to include mandatory recycled content in new plastic packaging. This will help convert recycled plastics into valuable raw materials – as the example of PET bottles in the context of the Single-Use Plastics Directive demonstrates.

The proposal would eliminate confusion about which packaging goes in which recycling bin. Each package will have a label showing what the package is made of and which waste stream it should go into. Waste collection containers will have the same label. The same symbol will be used everywhere in the European Union.

The single-use packaging industry will have to invest in transformation, but the impact on the EU's overall economy and job creation is positive. Increased reuse alone is expected to generate more than 600,000 jobs in the reuse sector by 2030, many of them in local SMEs. We expect a lot of innovation in packaging solutions that make it easy to reduce, reuse and recycle. The measures are also expected to save money: each European could save almost €100 a year if businesses pass on the savings to consumers.

Biomass used for the production of bio-based plastics must be sustainably regenerated, do not harm the environment, and follow the principle of "biomass cascading use": producers should prioritize the use of organic waste and by-products as raw materials. Additionally, to combat greenwashing and avoid misleading consumers, producers need to avoid generic claims about plastic products such as "bioplastic" and "biobased". When communicating about biobased content, producers should refer to the exact and measurable share of biobased plastic content in the product (eg: product contains 50% biobased plastic content).

Biodegradable plastics need to be tailored to specific applications where their environmental benefits and circular economy value are proven. Biodegradable plastics should never provide a permit for littering. Additionally, they must be labeled to show how long they take to biodegrade, under what conditions and in what environment. Products that are likely to be littered, including those covered by the Single-Use Plastics Directive, cannot claim to be biodegradable or label them.

Industrial compostable plastics should only be used if they have environmental benefits, do not negatively impact compost quality, and have proper bio-waste collection and treatment systems. Industrial compostable packaging is only allowed for tea bags, filter coffee pods and pads, fruit and vegetable stickers and very lightweight plastic bags. Products must always state that they are certified for industrial composting according to EU standards.

Post time: Dec-07-2022