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The EU Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation PPWR

Background and important key facts about the Packaging & Packaging Waste Regulation

The EU’s Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR for short) is intended to replace and repeal the current EU Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (European Parliament and Council Directive 94/62/EC of 20 December 1994 on packaging and packaging waste). This is a new piece of European Union legislation that aims to reduce the consumption of plastic packaging while promoting the circular economy. The Regulation includes ambitious targets for waste reduction while expanding the scope of extended producer responsibility (EPR), particularly in terms of requirements for the reusability of packaging and the use of recycled materials.

Although the exact provisions of the EU packaging regulation PPWR have not yet been finalised, companies should prepare for the new requirements in good time. 


Timetable for the implementation of the EU Packaging Regulation

1994 On 20 December, Directive 94/62/EC on packaging and packaging waste was adopted by the European Parliament and the European Council. The aim of the Packaging Directive is to protect the environment by preventing packaging waste.

2022 The European Commission publishes the draft of the EU packaging regulation PPWR with concrete targets for reducing packaging waste, specific requirements for packaging design and specifications for the use of recycled material.

2024 Planned adoption of the final version: In the EU member states, national laws such as the Packaging Act (VerpackG) in Germany have applied to date. However, the EU Packaging Regulation will have immediate effect at EU level as soon as the legal act is finalised and becomes effective.

2030 Quotas for the minimum use of recyclates: To date, the requirements for the use of recyclates have only applied to single-use beverage bottles. The quotas for a minimum proportion of PCR are to be extended to all types of packaging.

The need for recyclable packaging

  • Saving resources

    The use of recyclable packaging helps to conserve valuable resources such as raw materials, energy and water by reusing materials instead of extracting new ones.

  • Reducing waste

    Recycling removes packaging from the waste stream and transforms it into new products. Recycling therefore helps to reduce waste volumes.

  • Environmental protection

    Recycling reduces greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, as less energy is needed to produce new packaging.

  • Circular economy

    Recycling packaging creates a closed material cycle in which materials are reused instead of being thrown away after a single use.

  • Consumer preferences

    Many consumers already favour products with recyclable packaging. By switching to recyclable packaging, companies can gain the trust of consumers and strengthen their brand reputation.

  • Sustainable long-term investment

    Despite the initial costs of switching to recyclable packaging, companies can reduce their costs in the long term by using environmentally friendly packaging. This sustainable investment not only positions companies as environmentally conscious players, but also offers them the opportunity to gain a clear competitive advantage.

Post-consumer recycled material

The recycled material PCR comes from plastic waste disposed of by end users in the yellow bin or yellow bag. The EU Packaging Regulation stipulates that from 2030 - with a few exceptions - packaging containing plastic must contain a minimum proportion of PCR. The exact specifications and targets for the PCR content vary depending on the type of packaging and the material used. The increased use of PCR poses challenges, particularly with regard to the availability and quality of recycled material.

Competence Centre for recycled plastics

Our Competence Centre, located in Maribor, Slovenia and accredited to EN ISO 17025, is the focal point of our research and development work in the field of plastics recycling.

Our competence centre: multidisciplinary expertise for an efficient circular economy in Europe

Our competence centre bundles research and development activities in plastics recycling. Experts develop customised formulations for high-quality recycled plastics and provide support throughout Europe in the direction of an efficient circular economy. The centre provides PCR that meets quality standards and is suitable for use in new packaging.

How recyclable is your packaging today?

Our scientifically based packaging analysis provides the answer to this question. The assessment methodology for recyclability was developed together with the bifa Umweltinstitut and reviewed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging IVV. Our experts analyse your packaging samples according to standardised criteria. We offer comprehensive advice and work with you to develop practical proposals for sustainable packaging optimisation. This enables you to be optimally prepared for the requirements of the EU packaging regulation PPWR..

A stamp of approval for recyclability:

“Made for Recycling Interzero”: A globally recognised assessment standard for circular packaging

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)

The further development of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is a key aspect of the EU Packaging Regulation that drives forward the assumption of responsibility by manufacturers and distributors of packaging in the form of financial participation. This concept obliges companies to take full responsibility for the entire life cycle of their products, including taking back, reusing and recycling the packaging. The aim is to incentivise the use of sustainable materials, use recycling options and reduce the environmental footprint of companies. In this way, the aim is to reduce waste, strengthen the circular economy and drive the transition to more sustainable production and consumption practices.

The EPR systems are intended to cover the costs of collecting, sorting and recycling used packaging waste and at the same time incentivise the use of recyclable packaging and post-consumer recycled (PCR) material. In future, environmentally modulated EPR systems should encourage companies to switch to more sustainable packaging alternatives and thus make a positive contribution to environmental protection.

There are currently a large number of different EPR systems for packaging in Europe, which are implemented by the individual EU countries. In order to remain compliant, companies must take into account the applicable packaging regulations in the individual countries.

Consulting services on EU packaging licensing

We help you keep track of the various systems and stay legally compliant with packaging requirements in any EU country. You can also appoint us to handle all of your legal packaging duties.

The new EU packaging regulation makes chemical recycling more important

In chemical recycling, plastic waste is broken down into its chemical components in order to use them for the production of new plastics. In contrast to mechanical recycling, which returns plastics to their original form, chemical recycling allows the conversion of plastics that are difficult or impossible to recycle using mechanical processes.

Legally binding quotas for chemical recycling, which includes processes such as pyrolysis and solvolysis, do not yet exist. However, innovation-promoting and corresponding regulations should be the goal, as all plastic waste that can be recycled in a technically, ecologically and economically sensible way should be utilised. A holistic approach that promotes both mechanical and chemical recycling is crucial to ensure the sustainable handling of plastic waste, conserve resources and minimise the environmental impact.

  • EU Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation in detail

    On 30 November 2022, the EU issued its draft proposal for the Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR), which establishes new legislation for packaging and the management of its waste in EU Member States. Unlike the previous Directive on packaging and packaging waste, the new Regulation that replaces and repeals it will be binding on its target audience throughout all EU countries immediately after it becomes applicable.

    As part of the European Green Deal, the PPWR aims to ensure a more consistently sustainable Europe by 2030. The Regulation seeks to minimise the negative environmental impacts of packaging by strengthening the provisions that already require producers to act more responsibly. The new law is also intended to promote the creation of a closed-loop economy.

    Specific requirements are proposed to further these goals:

    • Reductions to packaging waste:
      Producers are required by law to design their packaging so that it minimises the consumption of materials. This means that unnecessary or unrecyclable packaging is to be avoided.
    • Recyclable packaging:
      The Regulation states that packaging must be designed so that it can be recycled easily.
    • Use of recycled materials:
      Packaging made from plastic must include a specific proportion of recycled (post-consumer recycled, PCR) material.  In addition, the minimum level of PCR material is also coupled to the use case for the packaging in question (contact sensitive packaging, single use plastic beverage bottles and other packaging).
    • Labelling and information:
      Packaging must comply with labelling rules and information about proper disposal must be provided.
    • Declarations of conformity:
      Traders must include comprehensive declarations at packaging level stating that their packaging conforms to requirements. This information is used for regulatory surveillance and enforcement.
    • Reuse:
      To increase the reuse of packaging, the PPWR envisages imposing reuse targets, not only for the catering and restaurant sector but also to a large extent in the case of packaging used in manufacturing (transport packaging).
    • Waste management responsibility:
      As before, producers across the EU will be subject to ‘extended producer responsibility’ (EPR). As part of EPR and depending on national implementation, producers are required to pay for – and in some cases organise – the take-back and recycling of used packaging to meet specified recycling targets.
    • Authorised representative:
      Businesses who distribute packaging in an EU country but have no registered place of business there must appoint an authorised representative to fulfil their duties.
  • Why did the EU decide to adopt new packaging legislation?

    Everyone in Europe produces a lot of packaging waste. Figures from the European Commission show that about 180 kg of packaging waste is produced per person, per year on average. Most packaging is also made from primary raw materials: some 40% of all plastics and 50% of all paper is utilised for packaging within the EU, with a 19% rise forecast here by 2030 if no countermeasures are introduced. The EU PPWR therefore aims to reduce this consumption while promoting the circular economy.

    Many countries, many laws... At national level, there are a great many approaches and regulations in force across the EU at the moment for the collection, reduction and recycling of packaging. Some countries are leading the way while others play catch-up, especially in terms of recycling rates. International producers and traders are faced with the never-ending challenge of knowing the specific regulations in each country and acting accordingly. The same is true for domestic e-commerce businesses who ship to other EU countries. The new Regulation is intended to both improve and harmonise the legal situation in the individual countries. 

  • Who is affected by the PPWR?

    The EU Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation is binding on companies with a registered place of business in an EU country or who import packaging into the EU, and applies to domestic and imported products.

Do you have questions about the new EU PPWR?
Frank Kurrat
Frank Kurrat

Managing Director Interzero Recycling Alliance

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