EU Council Advances Regulations for Sustainable Packaging

EU Council's groundbreaking regulations on sustainable packaging, recycling targets, and reducing packaging waste for a greener future in the circular economy

EU Council Advances Regulations for Sustainable Packaging

The Council has achieved a 'general approach' agreement on a regulation addressing packaging and packaging waste to combat the rising volume of packaging waste in the EU. This move aims to harmonize the internal market for packaging and promote a circular economy. The regulation encompasses the entire life cycle of packaging, setting requirements for safety and sustainability, promoting recyclability, and minimizing the presence of harmful substances. It also introduces labeling requirements for improved consumer information.

The Council's text maintains the scope of the Commission's proposal, covering all packaging materials and waste across various sectors. Sustainability requirements for packaging placed on the market are reinforced, with an emphasis on substances in packaging. The Council calls for a report by 2026 on substances of concern in packaging, evaluating their impact on re-use, recycling, and chemical safety.

Regarding recyclable packaging, the Council agrees with the Commission's proposal but refines the definition to include packaging designed for material recycling and capable of separate collection, sorting, and recycling at scale, effective from 2035. The regulation maintains headline targets for minimum recycled content in plastic packaging by 2030 and 2040, subject to review.

The Council introduces compostability requirements for tea bags and sticky labels on fruit and vegetables, allowing member states to mandate compostability for other packaging under specific conditions. The rules aim to reduce unnecessary packaging by minimizing weight and volume, except for protected packaging designs.

Targets for reducing packaging waste are established: 5% by 2030, 10% by 2035, and 15% by 2040, based on 2018 quantities. Member states can implement measures exceeding these targets. Reusable packaging and re-use targets are defined for various categories, and deposit return schemes (DRS) for single-use plastic bottles and metal beverage containers are mandated by 2029. Member states with a collection rate above 78% in 2026 are exempt from DRS requirements.

Restrictions on specific packaging formats, such as single-use plastic packaging for various products, are introduced, with provisions for member states to set exemptions, particularly for organic produce. The regulation also clarifies packaging labeling and maintains obligations for operators, manufacturers, importers, and distributors. The application date is extended to 18 months after the regulation's entry into force.

The general approach will guide negotiations with the European Parliament, shaping the final legislation for adoption by both institutions.


Keywords

EU Council , sustainable packaging , recycling targets , circular economy , packaging waste reduction

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