According to recently obtained information regarding the upcoming revision of the EU Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive, the Commission may propose to set discriminatory reuse targets for beverage packaging already at 20% by 2030 and then as high as 75% by 2040, to be imposed at national level and observed by each individual manufacturer. If imposed, these disproportionate and unjustified high targets would have a deep impact on respective sectors, also forming an existential threat to many SMEs. They would furthermore lead to the dismantling of a number of highly effective, existing recycling systems.
The financial cost of implementing such a dramatic reorientation in such a short space of time would be astronomically high. Established business models across Europe would inevitably and rapidly become unsustainable. Furthermore, the European Commission is assuming that high targets will lead to rapid consumer uptake. There is no evidence thereof.
While these sectors already have reusable packaging as part of the mix and are committed to increasing the offer of reusable beverage systems with the right policy measures in place, the reuse targets as currently formulated are unrealistic and incoherent. They overlook the ongoing huge efforts and investments that we are already making towards achieving packaging circularity through increased recyclability and collection of beverage packaging and the use of more recycled content. Most importantly, there has been no environmental impact assessment indicating that these targets would achieve their supposed intention of protecting the environment.
In recent years, these sectors have worked tirelessly to ensure they are using 100% recyclable packaging and increased levels of recycled content in their packaging, and they have campaigned for measures to increase recycling rates. Reusable packaging is not de facto the only sustainable option as is now being suggested by the European Commission. It is part of the circularity solution as a complementary action to recycling and reducing beverage packaging in a reasonable manner.
Patricia Fosselard, Secretary General, Natural Mineral Waters Europe: “Our sector is already achieving high rates of collection for recycling and is steadily progressing towards full circularity. Introducing unrealistically high reuse rates will significantly compromise this progress and jeopardise the sector, while the environmental benefit of this policy measure is yet to be demonstrated.”
Nicholas Hodac, Director General, UNESDA Soft Drinks Europe: ‘’Over the last years, we have been investing into more recyclability, more collection, more recycling, and more reuse to make our packaging fully circular by 2030. It is totally incomprehensible that the European Commission is disregarding it and asking us to switch entirely to reuse. We can achieve the Commission’s goal in a much more realistic way that is less harmful for the industry and that makes sense for the environment.’’