Unboxing the EU’s Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation Proposal

New EU regulations to trigger significant changes in the packaging industry

2:70 min Strategies & Market Analysis

According to a recent Rabobank report, the impacts of a proposed EU regulation that aims to reduce packaging waste and promote sustainability will require producers to revise their product portfolios and sourcing processes to comply. Investment in infrastructure for waste collection and recycling will be necessary to meet the targets set by the regulation.

The Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR), which is still in the proposal stage with changes to its requirements expected, aims to reduce packaging waste and increase sustainability. It sets targets for recycling, reuse, refill, and waste reduction, outlining design criteria for higher packaging recyclability, and mandates the establishment of deposit return systems for beverage containers made of plastic and metal.

The final text is expected to be presented in spring 2024, with countries including the regulation in their national laws in early 2025. “Although the regulation is not yet final, and some of the targets are years or even decades away, packaging producers, recyclers, governments, and anyone affected by the PPWR should start planning for the impacts that this regulation will have on their operations. These players would do well to identify strategies and alliances that will help them adapt to the changes to come in the European packaging landscape,” advises Regina Mestre, Analyst – Packaging at Rabobank.

Revised product portfolios

The introduction of the PPWR will increase the number of requirements that packaging producers and companies that place packaging on the market have to take into consideration for their products and their business. To comply with recyclability requirements, packaging producers – and in some cases packaged goods producers – will need to revise their product portfolio and potentially redesign products using different materials.

Adapted materials and sourcing strategies

Similarly, to comply with the requirements related to recycled content in plastic packaging, plastic packaging producers will need to adapt their sourcing strategies to ensure they have access to recycled content and, in some cases, modify their existing products to reach the targets set by the proposal. These changes might lead packaging producers and companies that use packaging to change their packaging choices, which can cause substitution between materials. The impact of this potential substitution effect will depend on many factors, including the availability of materials, market dynamics, costs, and the characteristics of the products that will use the packaging, which vary case by case.

Greater investments in infrastructure

Strong investments in waste collection and recycling infrastructure will be needed to match the requirements set by the regulation, particularly the recycling targets and the implementation of deposit refund systems. The relevance of such infrastructure investments is twofold: On the one hand, they are needed to meet the regulation’s targets, and, on the other, they will help ensure the supply of recyclates needed to increase recycled content in plastic packaging, which is currently tight.

More integrated value chains

Market harmonization will be key for the success of the PPWR. Consistency and clarity in the regulation’s requirements and their application are essential for ensuring a harmonized internal market in the EU and will minimize frictions and market barriers that could be detrimental to the objectives set by the PPWR. For the packaging industry, higher integration of the value chain will be beneficial for all players in achieving targets and smoothing interactions between one another.


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