Commission launches a public consultation on the revision of packaging rules

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On 30 September, the European Commission launched a public consultation on “Reducing packaging waste – review of rules”. The consultation seeks to gather input on a review of the Directive on Packaging and Packaging Waste, which regulates the placing on the market of packaging as well as packaging waste prevention and management in the EU. According to a ‘fitness check’ of the Directive from 2014, there was a need for clearer and more specific requirements on the composition and the reusable and recoverable, including recyclable, nature of packaging. Furthermore, the suggested revision follows up on the Plastics Strategy’s commitment to ensure that plastic packaging is reusable or recyclable in an economically viable manner by 2030, and on the European Green Deal, which broadens this commitment to all packaging, and commits to additional measures to prevent and reduce over-packaging and packaging waste. It also reflects the objectives of the new Circular Economy Action Plan, which further specifies these commitments, adding a focus on reducing overpackaging and packaging waste, driving design for re-use and recyclability of packaging and reducing the complexity of packaging materials. The proposed revision of the Packaging Directive is planned for adoption in 2021.

The Commission argues that despite an overall trend towards light weighting across a wider range of packaging formats in the last three decades, there has been an overall increase in packaging waste generated. In addition, they state that packaging design does not sufficiently consider the difficulties and costs of treatment of packaging waste (including collection and sorting). It thus increases the cost of recycling.

Prior to launching the public consultation on the revision of packaging rules, the European Commission gathered views on its Inception impact assessment (IIA), which foresees a positive economic impact of the revision of the Directive due to clearer and more harmonised packaging rules, as well as reduced waste collection costs. According to the IIA, the environmental impact of the proposed revision will include reduced greenhouse gas emissions, increased resource efficiency, and less food waste. The Commission states that depending on the option retained, the revision might result in increased administrative burden for businesses and higher monitoring and compliance costs for Member States.

The consultation is divided into two parts: the first part addressed to the general public and the second seeks the input of experts, business associations and businesses, as well as local, regional and national public authorities. The first part of the consultation inquires about EU consumers’ views and personal experiences regarding packaging. The second section focuses on the following topics:

  • Increase of level playing field and harmonization of requirements for products placed in the Single Market;
  • Reduction of packaging waste;
  • Promotion of the use of reusable packaging;
  • Increased recyclability of packaging;
  • Clear definitions and harmonized labels.

Furthermore, the consultation proposes sets of possible policy measures aimed at the abovementioned issues.

Ecommerce Europe is strongly engaged in EU’s sustainability policies and believes the ecommerce sector could serve as a bridge between the increased digitalisation and the transition to a more sustainable economy. The issue of packaging, in particular, is addressed in  Ecommerce Europe’s recently published Collaborative Report on Sustainability and E-commerce, which gathers a variety of information, studies and best practices, meant to serve as a source of information for businesses and policymakers across the EU and beyond. Ecommerce Europe supports the development of sustainable cross-border packaging solutions and calls for stronger harmonisation of existing legislation.

The deadline for contributions to the public consultation is 6 January 2021.

For more information on the Ecommerce Europe’s work on sustainability, please reach out to info@ecommerce-europe.eu.

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