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  • Writer's pictureDaniel Jiménez

Updated EU Strategy for Packaging Waste Management and Reduction

In response to the steady growth in packaging waste generation, the European Union has established a provisional framework to address this challenge sustainably. This approach is part of the broader efforts to combat environmental misrepresentations, notably through the "Greenwashing Directive", aiming to ensure that sustainability claims are transparent and accurate.

Here, we offer an updated review of the agreement reached by the Council and the European Parliament, highlighting the most innovative elements of this approach towards a greener future in packaging production and management.

Updated EU Strategy for Packaging Waste Management and Reduction
Updated EU Strategy for Packaging Waste Management and Reduction

Innovations and Goals in Packaging Management

This new strategy introduces significant changes to advance packaging sustainability, emphasizing waste minimization and the promotion of recycling. The revised and updated aspects of the agreement include:

  • Enhanced Waste Reduction Targets The waste reduction commitment has been revised, requiring member countries to achieve a reduction of: 6% by 2030, 11% by 2035, and 16% by 2040 compared to 2018 levels, focusing primarily on plastic packaging waste.

  • Expanded Recycling Strategies All packaging must be designed to be recyclable or reusable by 2030. Additionally, an ambitious goal of achieving a 100% recycling rate for certain materials by 2035 has been introduced.

  • Increased Use of Recycled Materials The goals related to the minimum content of recycled materials in plastic packaging for 2030 and 2040 have been maintained, with new targets for other materials, such as glass and metal, promoting a broader circular economy.

  • Development of Biologically Sourced Plastic Packaging By 2027, clear guidelines on the sustainability criteria for the use of biologically sourced plastics will be established, aiming to promote greener alternatives.

  • Regulations to Minimize Unnecessary Packaging A regulation has been introduced to limit the empty space in packaging to a maximum of 45%, thus reducing packaging waste and optimizing logistics.

  • Restrictions on Single-Use Packaging The ban on single-use plastic packaging will be extended to other sensitive sectors, including fast food, for disposable products starting from 2030.

  • Promotion of Packaging Reuse The agreement has been amended to include specific reuse targets for a wider range of sectors, promoting a shift towards more sustainable packaging systems.

  • Strict Control of Harmful Substances Regulations against the use of PFAS in food packaging are strengthened, and new restrictions on other substances harmful to health and the environment are added.

Future of Packaging Strategy

This revised framework seeks not only to reduce the volume of packaging waste but also to stimulate innovation in materials and packaging processes, leading the way to a robust circular economy in Europe.

The formal adoption of this agreement, aligned with the principles of the "Greenwashing Directive," will mark a step forward towards sustainability and environmental responsibility in packaging production and management.

Expected implementation will start 18 months after its official ratification, ensuring a comprehensive approach that significantly impacts reducing the environmental footprint of packaging, while also promoting recycling and reuse practices across the European Union.

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