Preparing the ground for more circular packaging – The review of the EU
Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR)
Creating a circular economy for packaging is one of the key objectives of the European Commission to build a more climate-friendly Europe. As a key step to achieving it, the European Commission aims to ensure that ‘’all packaging in the EU is reusable or recyclable in an economically viable way by 2030’’, in line with the EU Green Deal and the EU Circular Economy Action Plan. That’s why the European Commission has decided to review the EU Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation, with a proposal published on 30 November 2022.
The EU Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation defines the essential requirements for packaging design and composition and sets out packaging collection and recycling targets. It aims to improve the environmental performance of packaging, reduce packaging waste and protect the free circulation of packaging in the EU Single Market.
Driving a circular economy for packaging
UNESDA Soft Drinks Europe strongly supports the EU’s ambitious measures to drive the shift to a circular economy for packaging by promoting the collection, recycling and reuse of packaging. As part of its contribution to create more sustainable packaging, UNESDA is taking concrete actions to deliver fully circular beverage packaging in the coming years, as outlined in its Circular Packaging Vision 2030.
Circularity of beverage packaging is achievable through closed-loop recycling. This practice should be defined in all the relevant EU legislation as an enabler for reaching circularity. For instance, the new EU Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles should also prioritise closed-loop recycling by promoting fibre-to-fibre recycling. Currently, 68% of our PET bottles find their way into other products and cannot be recovered and recycled back into new beverage bottles due to the changes in its material properties. This goes against the principle of circularity and puts in danger the ability of beverage producers, including SMEs, to access the necessary food-grade material to placed more recycled beverage bottles on the EU market and therefore to achieve the EU mandatory recycled content targets.
That’s why UNESDA co-signed a letter with the NGO community calling on the European Parliament to reject amendments watering down actions against the downcycling of beverage bottles in textiles with regard to its report on the EU Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles.
UNESDA policy recommendations about the EU Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation
UNESDA sees the review of the EU Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation as a great opportunity to create a supportive policy framework that enables the European soft drinks industry to deliver on its packaging circularity commitments in an environmentally-sound and cost-efficient way.
Let’s take a closer look at UNESDA’s policy recommendations.
- Collect at least 90% of ALL its beverage packaging by 2030.
Enabling policy measure:
- Help create closed-loop beverage collection and recycling systems by setting up minimum requirements for new well-designed Deposit Refund Systems (DRS) to facilitate their wider roll-out around Europe.
- Make all its beverage packaging 100% recyclable by 2025.
- Only produce PET bottles containing a minimum average of 50% recycled PET by 2025.
- Only produce PET bottles made from 100% recycled PET and/or renewable PET by 2030.
Enabling policy measures:
- Help drive the uptake of recycled content in its beverage packaging by granting beverage producers a right of first refusal so they have fair and necessary access to the recycled materials coming from the beverage packaging they put on the market and that was successfully collected.
- An EU framework enabling innovative recycling technologies.
- Clear definitions of recyclability that foster innovation and investment.
Reduce & reuse
- Increased use of reusable beverage systems by 2030.
- Study the best environmental and economic pathway to increase use of refillable models.
Enabling policy measures:
- A thorough environmental impact assessment by the EU authorities to determine under which circumstances reusable beverage packaging brings net environmental benefits compared to its single-use circular counterpart.
- An EU-level policy approach that is flexible to account for different national contexts, different packaging materials and different types of reusable solutions.
- A well-managed integration with a realistic timing and supported by efficient collection schemes, investment support, guidance and consumer education.