UNESDA Soft Drinks Europe’s statement following plenary vote on the EU Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR)

Following the European Parliament’s plenary vote on the proposal for a Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR), UNESDA Soft Drinks Europe recognises that the EU institutions have taken important steps to further harmonise packaging waste management rules and bring more predictability to businesses as well as to support the circularity of beverage packaging.

Most notably, the mandatory 90% collection target for beverage PET bottles and aluminum cans and the obligation for Member States to set up well-designed Deposit and Return Systems (DRS) are important tools to accelerate collection of our packaging and reduce litter.

The deal also provides a critical enabler to the recycling of beverage packaging by giving the possibility to Member States to set up a mechanism of priority access to specific recycled materials, therefore enabling high-quality recycling when it makes sense.

Nicholas Hodac, UNESDA Director General, states: “We are looking forward to working with Member States, EPR schemes and DRS operators to ensure a stable and sufficient supply of food-grade feedstock for recycling, which is the necessary condition to the achievement of both our mandatory and voluntary recycled content targets. The increased use of recycled material in our packaging will further support our efforts to reduce the environmental footprint of our packaging.”

On the other hand, the approach taken on reuse is disappointing as it does not recognise the complementarity of reuse and recycling, particularly concerning well-performing packaging formats. “Indeed, the exemption provided from the reuse targets does not consider the good environmental performance of specific packaging formats (such as beverage plastic bottles, aluminum cans and pouches) and the significant investments in efficient collection and recycling systems from our sector”, explains Nicholas.

There is no doubt that reuse is part of the solution to reduce packaging and packaging waste and our sector is already investing in innovate ways to further reuse and refill. However, the environmental efficacy of these solutions varies across different contexts and packaging types. A flexible approach, allowing for sector-specific assessments and adaptations to geographical contexts would optimise environmental benefits. The agreement does not recognise this and creates an unfair situation where the possibility for specific sectors to obtain a derogation from the reuse targets is very limited and depends on the collective success or failure of the entire packaging industry (including various sectors and materials).

The agreement also does not recognise the benefits of innovative solutions such as systems enabling refill, which can also help reducing packaging and packaging waste.

To conclude, the European soft drinks sector looks forward to a continued cooperation among stakeholders and governments and confirm its commitment to keep leading the way towards packaging circularity. The journey towards packaging circularity does not end here and it will be key to ensure a smooth implementation of the new measures, including via the development of sound secondary legislation.

 

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