EU Code of Conduct

Helping create the EU Code of Conduct on Responsible Food Business and Marketing Practices

The EU Code of Conduct on Responsible Food Business and Marketing Practices launched by the European Commission in July 2021 is one of the first deliverables of the EU Farm to Fork Strategy. It aims to encourage sustainable practices across the entire EU food supply chain to help accelerate the transition to a more sustainable food system in Europe.

UNESDA welcomed the drawing up of an EU Code of Conduct from the start and provided some initial recommendations. UNESDA also continued to engage constructively in all the stakeholder discussions about the Code.

UNESDA commits to the EU Code of Conduct

UNESDA is proud to be among the first signatories of the EU Code of Conduct and is actively cooperating with its members to improve the sustainability of Europe’s food system. UNESDA submitted its commitments to the EU Code of Conduct, which cover two main areas: health and nutrition, and sustainability.

UNESDA’s health and nutrition commitments include:

  • an additional 10% reduction in average added sugars in soft drinks by 2025 in the EU-27 and the UK;
  • responsible advertising and marketing practices to children under 13 across all media;
  • intensified actions to act responsibly in EU primary and secondary schools to achieve full compliance;
  • transparent and easy-to-understand front-of-pack nutrition labelling (FOPNL) to help consumers make informed dietary choices.

On the sustainability side, UNESDA has pledged to achieve full circularity for beverage packaging by 2030. UNESDA’s Circular Packaging Vision 2030 includes the following commitments:

By 2025:

  • all beverage packaging to be 100% recyclable
  • all PET bottles to contain 50% recycled content

By 2030:

  • PET bottles to be made from 100% recycled and/or renewable material
  • >90% collection for all beverage packaging
  • increased use of refillable packaging

First progress report on UNESDA commitments

The European soft drinks sector has made good progress on its commitments under the EU Code of Conduct in the past year (2021-2022).

 

KEY RESULTS ON SUGAR REDUCTION

  • UNESDA members achieved a reduction of 3.6% in average added sugars in their soft drinks between 2019 and 2021 (part of the sector’s commitment to reduce average added sugars by a further 10% by 2025)
  • Already 14 UNESDA national associations have made national sugar reduction commitments inspired by the UNESDA commitment at EU level, with deadlines from 2025 to 2030.

 

KEY RESULTS ON FULL CIRCULARITY OF SOFT DRINKS PACKAGING

  • For most of UNESDA corporate members, now more than 96% of their packaging is fully recyclable, with an increased use of fully recyclable packaging going from +0.3% to +19% between 2020 and 2021.
  • UNESDA corporate members have considerably increased the use of recycled plastic content in their packaging, with increases going from +4% to +30% between 2020 and 2021. 

Further progress will be possible with a supportive EU legislative framework. In particular, UNESDA is calling for the creation of the following enablers:

Health and nutrition:

  • The promotion of a multi-faceted and multi-stakeholder approach to address obesity and overweight, calling for collective action from all actors.
  • The recognition of meaningful voluntary approaches to sugar reduction as efficient alternatives to regulation.
  • Support to the use of ingredients (e.g. low-calorie sweeteners) approved as safe by health authorities.
  • Regular and reliable pan-European monitoring of food and drink consumption intakes and patterns to better understand what interventions work for what population groups.
  • The adoption of an EU-wide, interpretative, front-of-pack nutrition labelling scheme that avoids fragmentation of the Single Market, is based on sound science and evidence, and which does not discriminate foods or ingredients.

Circular packaging:

  • The introduction of EU minimum requirements for new Deposit Refund Systems across Europe to guarantee high collection rates of beverage packaging.
  • A well-functioning secondary raw materials market that gives the soft drinks sector fair access to sufficient high-quality recycled PET: despite the soft drinks sector’s great progress in the field, UNESDA is concerned by the lack of guarantee to access the necessary material to meet the sector’s commitments in the future.
  • Realistic targets and a well-managed transition towards an increase in reusable beverage systems.

Our members’ individual pledges

An addition to signing up to UNESDA’s commitments, UNESDA’s members submitted individual pledges to the EU Code of Conduct in the areas of healthy, balanced and sustainable diets, food loss and waste, climate neutrality, and circular and resource-efficient food chain. Learn more on some of their commitments below.

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