Council’s position on packaging rules an ‘improvement’ over Parliament’s stance, says Zero Waste Europe
Brussels, 18 December – Zero Waste Europe acknowledges that the Council of the EU’s position reached today on the Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR), while watered down, represents an improvement over the backwards position of the Parliament, setting a strong foundation for upcoming negotiations in the trilogues.
The reuse provisions in the file have been subject to disagreements between Member States. Italy and Finland circulated a non-paper with the aim of undermining reuse and waste prevention measures in the PPWR after the vote in the Parliament, which led the Spanish Presidency to accept further derogations in this field.
As a result, the Council’s general approach includes the removal of reuse targets for wine and the reinstatement of cardboard exemptions. Additionally, the Council suggests limiting restrictions on packaging for fresh fruit and vegetables exclusively to plastic packaging.
Raphaëlle Catté, Policy & Research Support, states:
“We appreciate the Council’s achievement of a more favourable arrangement for reuse provisions compared to the Parliament, maintaining most of the targets for take-away, beverage, and transport packaging in their general approach. However, due to opposition led by Italy and Finland, the Presidency had to grant additional exemptions to reuse provisions. With the welcome inclusion of open formulations in the targets, using terms like “at least,” Member States which are already implementing ambitious reuse measures won’t be required to revert to disposable packaging.”
Dorota Napierska, Toxic-Free Circular Economy Policy Officer, states:
“The Council’s compromise text introduces crucial measures, including clear identification of substances of concern on packaging labels and comprehensive assessments of their impact on reuse, recycling, and chemical safety. While enhancing transparency, we urge immediate bold actions, especially for hazardous substances like PFAS and bisphenols, to safeguard human health and address packaging’s vital role in everyday life.”
Lauriane Veillard, Chemical Recycling and Plastic-to-Fuels Policy Officer, states:
“It is encouraging that the Council acknowledges the differences between recycling technologies, notably regarding energy requirements and greenhouse gas emissions. However, it fails to take into account that the overall environmental impact of recycling goes beyond GHG emissions – something which was recognised by the Parliament in its position.”
During the proceedings, Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius noted the Council’s compromise text aligns with the Commission’s goal for sustainable packaging, and Chair Teresa Ribera Rodríquez stated she saw the European Parliament report as a solid basis for trilogue negotiations next month. As Belgium takes the Council presidency in January 2024, Zero Waste Europe urges swift action to secure a deal before the upcoming European parliamentary elections next year.
Notes to the editor
- Council of the EU’s Press Release: https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2023/12/18/packaging-and-packaging-waste-council-adopts-its-negotiating-position-on-new-rules-for-more-sustainable-packaging-in-the-eu/
- Minor amendments: Chair Teresa Ribera Rodríquez circulated a proposal for foure minor changes to the text which were also accepted. 1) In article 26, to introduce additional flexibility to ensure a pooling system for beverages can work between companies to achieve reuse targets; 2) flexibility for islands of less than 2,000 inhabitants; 3) to assess the implementation of reuse targets by taking into considerations LCA of single use packaging; 4) in article 8, add an extra year before the entry into force for compostable packaging, i.e., beginning of 2025.
- Zero Waste Europe Press Release “ A position for the wrong century: European Parliament’s vote on the PPWR” (Plenary Vote 22 November 2023): https://zerowasteeurope.eu/press-release/a-position-for-the-wrong-century-european-parliaments-vote-on-the-ppwr/
- Zero Waste Europe Press Release “Initial vote on PPWR signals relief for policymakers” (ENVI Committee vote 24 October 2023): https://zerowasteeurope.eu/press-release/initial-vote-on-ppwr-signals-relief-for-policymakers/
- European Commission: “Proposal for a revision of EU legislation on Packaging and Packaging Waste”:
- Eurostat: “EU packaging waste generation with record increase”: https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/en/web/products-eurostat-news/w/DDN-20231019-1
- The latest Eurostat data on packaging waste, published in October 2023, reaffirms this upward trajectory with a new record of 188.7 kg per capita in 2021 – a 6% increase in waste generation in only a year. With recycling rates stagnating since 2010, inaction at the EU can no longer be acceptable, as packaging waste is projected to increase by 19% by 2030.
- Zero Waste Europe works as part of a broad coalition of environmental NGOs including Rethink Plastic Alliance, EEB, Surfrider, Recycling Netwerk Benelux, ECOS, Environmental Paper Network, and DUH.
- Reuse Vanguard Project (RSVP) – Blueprint for harmonising the implementation of takeaway food and drinks packaging systems for reuse in Europe
- The economics of reuse systems
- Making Europe transition to reusable packaging – infographics
- Assessing Climate Impact: Reusable Systems vs. Single-use Takeaway Packaging
- Unveiling the Complexities: Exploring LCAs of Reusable Packaging in the Take-Away Sector
- How to set up managed pool systems – available in English, German, French, Dutch and Spanish
- Packaging Reuse vs Packaging Waste Prevention
- 81 European environmental organisations published an Open letter & FactSheet on Reuse urging policymakers to back the European Commission’s specific reuse targets (14 June 2023).
- “Debunking common myths about food hygiene, food waste, and health concerns related to reusable packaging” Myth busting paper
- Packaging at the core of pollution infographics + text
- Food packaging: safety first (policy briefing providing arguments towards toxic-free and future-proof packaging)
- Plastics In The Spotlight – Zero Waste Europe
Aline Maigret, Head of Policy, [email protected]
Raphaëlle Catté, Policy & Research Support, [email protected]
Lauriane Veillard, Chemical Recycling and Plastic-to-Fuels Policy Officer, [email protected]
Janek Vahk, Zero Pollution Policy Manager, [email protected]
Dorota Napierska, Toxic-Free Circular Economy Policy Officer, [email protected]
About Zero Waste Europe
Zero Waste Europe is a European network of communities, local leaders, experts, and change agents working towards the elimination of waste in our society. Advocating for sustainable systems and the redesign of mankind’s relationship with resources, they accelerate a just transition towards zero waste for the benefit of people and the planet. www.zerowasteeurope.eu