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02. May 2023

The EU Packaging Regulation (PPWR) - Contents and Changes to the Packaging Waste Directive.

On November 30, 2022, the European Commission published a first draft update of the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (PPWD) as part of the Green Deal and the accompanying Circular Economy Package.

The new proposal, the Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR), aims to promote circular economy, reduce packaging waste in a cost-effective manner and increase the use of recyclates. The PPWR will be binding and uniformly applicable to all EU companies and member states that place packaging on the market. As a company whose part of the job is to support their licensed customers in complying with these regulations, RIGK considers it their duty to inform about possible upcoming changes. Keeping this in mind, we listed the main changes to be introduced under the PPWR below: 

  • The primary objective of the directive, as currently interpreted, is to harmonize national packaging and packaging waste management measures and to ensure a high level of environmental protection. The introduction of the new regulation is intended to pursue the overall goal of first reducing the amount of packaging waste, improving the recyclability of packaging and promoting the use of recycled content.  

  • Currently the directive is still voluntary and has therefore been implemented by member states in different ways and at different times. However, once ratified, it will be binding and mandatory for all member states, ensuring a uniform and consistent approach to the directive. 

  • So far, the focus has been mainly on recycling targets for packaging waste. With the new proposal, the focus will now be on waste reduction targets for EU member states and on measures to combat "overpackaging." 

  • The existing bans and guidelines for single-use plastic (SUPD) will now be supplemented by other packaging formats as part of the new PPWR, expanding on the current SUPD bans. 

  • Until now, there has been a lack of a clear definition for the term "recyclability" in the PPWD. This will change with the PPWR: All packaging must be fully recyclable in the future. By 2030, packaging must be designed in such a way that it can be recycled. To this end, the proposal contains five conditions that must be met for packaging to be considered recyclable. These include, for example, the separate collection and sorting of packaging waste or certain Design for Recycling requirements. However, there are no specific criteria for packaging design. The Commission proposes five recycling performance levels, with packaging with less than 70% recycled content to be banned from 2030 on. From 2035, only packaging material that can be sufficiently recycled "on a large scale" would be permitted. Exceptions will apply here for innovative packaging and medical products. In addition, license fees for packaging producers are to be staggered depending on recycling performance. The definition of "recyclability" will be supplemented by terms such as "recycled on a large scale", which are to be included in the Delegated Act for Design for Recycling (DfR). 

  • The implementation of extended producer responsibility (EPR) in member states has been uneven to date. Under the new PPWR, a harmonized, eco-modulated EPR fee would be introduced in each member state based on the recyclability and recycled content of the packaging. This change would help ensure a consistent and sustainable implementation of the EPR across the EU. 

  • Currently there are no specific targets for the recycled content of packaging in the PPWD. However, the new PPWR sets clear minimum targets for plastic packaging to be achieved by 2030 and 2040. These minimum input rates are for "post-consumer" recyclates only. According to the Commission’s impact analysis, the quota is to be calculated on a "per packaging unit" basis, although technical implementation is complex. The recycling rates must be achieved in packaging by 2040, ranging from 50% to 65%, depending on the type of packaging.  

Source: Martin Engelmann (Director General IK Industrievereinigung Kunststoffverpackungen e.V., LinkedIn article: PPWR unpacked - Part 3: Minimum quotas for recycled plastics in packaging)

There are exceptions for specific packaging, such as medical devices and compostable plastic packaging. 

  • Currently, in the PPWD the focus has not really been on reusability efforts or the application of "refill" concepts. However, a specific target is now set under the PPWR, specifying a proportion of packaging to be available in reusable and/or refillable form by 2030 and 2040. 

  • Currently, there are no mandatory labelling requirements for packaging. Under the PPWR, harmonized labelling systems for the material composition and recycled packaging content would be introduced. These would also provide consumers with instructions for removal, sorting and reuse. 

The current review of the draft regulation by the European Council and the European Parliament is expected to take a few more months before it comes into force by the end of 2024. The new PPWR has generated mixed reactions and is a highly controversial topic. RIGK has also taken precise positions on various industrial, transport and commercial packaging issues and has called for the necessary adjustments. Therefore, RIGK will continue to follow future developments and decisions with outstanding commitment to keep you up to date.

Further information: 
Jan Bauer 
Managing Director 
Phone: +49 611 308600-16