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Document 52022SC0384

COMMISSION STAFF WORKING DOCUMENT IMPACT ASSESSMENT REPORT Accompanying the document Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and the Council on packaging and packaging waste, amending Regulation (EU) 2019/1020, and repealing Directive 94/62/EC

SWD/2022/384 final

Brussels, 30.11.2022

SWD(2022) 384 final

COMMISSION STAFF WORKING DOCUMENT

IMPACT ASSESSMENT REPORT

Accompanying the document

Proposal for a Regulation

of the European Parliament and the Council on packaging and packaging waste, amending Regulation (EU) 2019/1020, and repealing Directive 94/62/EC









{COM(2022) 677 final} - {SEC(2022) 425 final} - {SWD(2022) 385 final}


1.Introduction: Political and legal context

1.1.Policy context

1.2.Legal context

1.3.Public, environmental and economic context

2.Problem definition

2.1 Problems and intervention logic

2.1.1. High levels of avoidable packaging

2.1.2 Barriers to packaging circularity

2.1.3 Quality of recycling

2.2 Links between problems

2.3 What are the problem drivers?

2.4 How is the problem likely to develop?

2.5 Summary of consequences

2.5 Who is affected and how?

3.Why should the EU act?

3.1.Legal basis

3.2.Subsidiarity: Necessity of EU action and EU added value

3.3.Interface with and gaps within the existing legal framework for waste

4.Objectives: What is to be achieved?

5.What are the available policy options?

5.1.Legal instrument: Change from a Directive to a Regulation

5.2.What is the baseline from which options are assessed?

5.3.Description of the policy options

6.What are the impacts of the policy options?

6.1.1.Prevention and reuse

6.1.2.Measures on prevention and reuse in policy option 1

6.1.3.Measures on prevention and reuse in policy option 2

6.1.4.Measures on prevention and reuse in policy option 3

6.2.Recyclability and compostability

6.2.1.Measures on recyclability and compostability in policy option 1

6.2.2.Measures on recyclability and compostability in policy option 2

6.2.3.Measures on recyclability and compostability in policy option 3

6.3.Recycled Content of plastic packaging

6.3.1.Measures on recycled content of plastic packaging in policy option 1

6.3.2.Measures on recycled content of plastic packaging in policy option 2

6.3.3.Measures on recycled content in policy option 3

6.4.Enabling measures

6.4.1.Enabling measures in policy option 1

6.4.2.Enabling measures in policy option 2

6.4.3.Enabling measures in policy option 3

6.5.Transfers of Financial Cost

6.6.Cost benefit analysis of options

6.7.Comparison of policy options

7.Preferred option

7.1.The preferred policy package

7.2.Impacts of the preferred policy package

7.3.Feasibility

7.4.International Aspects

7.5.Regulatory burden and simplification

7.6.Application of the ‘one in, one out’ approach

8.How will impacts be monitored and evaluated?



1.    Introduction: Political and legal context

All goods need packaging to be protected and to be easy transported from where they are produced to where they are used or consumed. There are, though, barriers that hamper the Internal Market from fully functioning for packaging, with diverging regulatory approaches mushrooming across Member States. In addition, there are environmental concerns: packaging is a key user of virgin materials (40% of plastics and 50% of paper use in the EU is for packaging) and packaging represents 36% of municipal solid waste. 1 At the same time, low levels of reuse and poor recycling stand in the way of achieving a low-carbon circular economy. Instead, important shares of the recovered waste are incinerated or landfilled.

This initiative updates the EU's legislative framework for packaging and packaging waste. It is an integral part of the Green Deal 2 , the EU's growth strategy to transform the EU into a modern, resource-efficient, clean and competitive economy where there are no net emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050, where economic growth is decoupled from resource use, and where no person and no place is left behind. The initiative also needs to ensure that Member States and businesses are properly supported in delivering existing objectives, with a regulatory framework that supports investment, reduces waste and supports high quality recycling.

1.1.Policy context

As stated in the Green Deal, the transition to a low-carbon circular economy is an opportunity to expand sustainable economic activity, thus generating employment. With regards to packaging and packaging waste, the Green Deal's commitments are taken up in the new Circular Economy Action Plan (CEAP) 3 , which commits to reinforcing the mandatory essential requirements for packaging and to consider measures to reduce (over)packaging and packaging waste, drive design for re-use and recyclability of packaging, reduce the complexity of packaging materials and introduce requirements for recycled content in plastic packaging. Further, the CEAP strives in line with the European Strategy for Plastics 4 that “all packaging, including plastics, on the EU market is reusable or recyclable in an economically viable, cost-effective manner way by 2030”. The Industrial Strategy for Europe 5 confirmed the importance of the Internal Market for the EU's competitiveness and prosperity. European citizens and operators though experience barriers that prevent them from fully exploiting the potential of the single market including restrictive and complex national rules, limited administrative capacities, imperfect transposition of EU rules and their inadequate enforcement. 

The Council conclusions of December 2020 6 welcomed the intention of the Commission to ensure that all packaging is reusable or recyclable in an economically feasible manner by 2030 and reducing packaging, over-packaging and thereby packaging waste. The Council underlined that the revision should update and establish more concrete, effective and easy to implement provisions to foster sustainable packaging in the internal market and minimise the complexity of packaging in order to foster economically feasible solutions and to improve the reusability and recyclability as well as minimise substances of concern in packaging material, especially with a view to food packaging materials.

The Parliament’s resolution of 10 February 2021 on the New Circular Economy Action Plan 7 , reiterated the objective to make all packaging reusable or recyclable in an economically viable way by 2030 and called on the Commission to present a legislative proposal including waste reduction measures and targets and ambitious essential requirements in the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (PPWD) to reduce excessive packaging, also in e-commerce, improve recyclability and minimise the complexity of packaging, increase recycled content, phase out hazardous and harmful substances, and promote reuse. It underlined that food safety or hygiene standards must not be compromised. 

Europe faces strategic dependencies for many materials, and so remains vulnerable to supply shocks, including for fossil fuels. The invasion of Ukraine by Russia highlights the vulnerabilities of global supply chains. Using materials more efficiently, by boosting the use of recycled materials instead of primary raw materials, and by supporting the circular economy will help decouple economic development from natural resource use, contribute to achieving climate neutrality by 2050 and to halting biodiversity loss. This will also reduce our dependencies, strengthen our competitiveness and foster our open strategic autonomy, thus making the EU economy more resilient to disruptions in integrated global value chains.

Further, the EU has committed to implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Despite this, while notable progress has been achieved towards the SDG on ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns (SDG 12), this is also the SDG where in the global ranking the EU-27 Member States have the second lowest average score 8 . This initiative will improve the EU's performance regarding SDG 12.5, which is to substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse by 2030.

Finally, EU citizens and civil society proposed in the Conference on the Future of Europe 9 strong action on waste prevention, packaging waste management and packaging circularity through more recycled content.

1.2.Legal context

The Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (PPWD) 10 was adopted in 1994. It aims to harmonise national measures, to provide a high level of environmental protection and to ensure a good functioning of the internal market. Packaging is defined as “all products made of any material of any nature to be used for the containment, protection, handling, delivery and presentation of goods, from raw materials to processed goods, from the producer to the user of the consumer”. Packaging consists of sales packaging (primary packaging), grouped packaging (secondary packaging) and transport packaging (tertiary packaging). As main instruments, the PPWD imposes on the Member States to enforce the Essential Requirements, which relate to the composition of packaging and its reusable and recoverable nature, and to meet recovery and recycling targets. Whereas recycling and incineration with energy recovery could be credited till 2008 to the targets, since 2008 only the recycled waste can be accounted for the targets.

In 2014, a Fitness Check 11 identified weaknesses in the Essential Requirements and recommended to make them “more concrete and easily enforceable” and “to strengthen essential requirements as a key tool to achieve better environmental performance of packaging”. However, the amendment of the PPWD in 2018 did not yet address these weaknesses. It mainly increased the 2008 recycling targets for 2025 and 2030; in particular, the low recycling rates for plastic packaging (22,5%) were more than doubled to 50% for 2025 and set at 55% in 2030. Moreover, it introduced new methods for calculation of the recycling percentages and rules for their reporting. This initiative delivers on three revision clauses included in the 2018 amendment of the PPWD: firstly, to examine the feasibility of reinforcing the Essential Requirements with a view to, inter alia, improving design for reuse and promoting high quality recycling as well as strengthening their enforcement; secondly, to examine the feasibility of setting quantitative targets on reuse of packaging and any further measures to promote reuse of packaging; thirdly, to evaluate the effectiveness of the measures aiming to reduce the consumption of lightweight plastic carrier bags (LPCBs) and to examine other possible ways to achieve this objective; and to present a legislative proposal on these issues, if appropriate.

A number of related initiatives are very important for packaging: The Waste Framework Directive (WFD 12 ) establishes horizontally applicable concepts related to waste generation and waste management, including waste treatment, recycling and recovery. It creates the waste hierarchy, giving priority to waste prevention over reuse and/or recycling, subsequently recycling over other recovery options and final disposal via landfilling. Further, it obliges Member States to have in place functioning Extended Producer’s Responsibility (EPR) schemes, which ensure that producers of products bear responsibility for the management of the waste stage of their products. In the CEAP, the Commission committed to assess feasibility of harmonising the separate waste collection systems in the Member States.

The Single-Use Plastic Directive (SUPD 13 ) focusses -amongst other plastic products- also on certain plastic packaging (e.g. carrier bags, beverages cups, food and beverage containers including bottles) with the main purpose to prevent littering and its environmental impact. It contains product bans, the obligation for Member States to ensure the separate collection for recycling and to reduce the volume of certain groups of single use plastics. Finally, it established minimum recycled content targets for single use plastic beverage bottles.

Another legal act with respect to plastic packaging is the 2020 Own Resource Decision (ORD 14 ), which established an own resource based on plastic packaging waste not recycled in a specific Member States, irrespective whether this Member States meets the target or not. The ORD creates an incentive for Member States to put in place measures in the pursuit of high recycling rates for plastic packaging. It gives flexibility to the Member States in deciding on their efforts to have high plastic recycling rates in line with the WFD. Annex 5.3 sets out the links of the PPWD to European Green Deal initiatives and other product legislation.

1.3.Public, environmental and economic context

Packaging grows faster than the GNI and has negative impacts on the environment -from overexploitation of resources to pollution of land and sea- and is a significant source of climate change. According to a Eurobarometer survey, 94% of citizens in EU Member States say that protecting the environment is important to them with climate change, air pollution, and waste being the three most important environmental issues. 15  Around nine in ten citizens are concerned about plastics’ impact on the environment. 67% of the citizens state that industry and retailers should reduce plastic packaging and want products to be designed for recycling.

As a result of the growing public awareness about the environmental concerns related to packaging, many companies have committed to act on packaging waste. 16 These voluntary commitments, however, tend to focus more on quick wins or window dressing and less on the needed systemic change. This situation impacts the internal market and leads - through diverging EU provisions now and in the future - to legal uncertainty for business with subsequently lower investment and innovation in packaging and business models beneficial to the environment. At the same time, packaging is a significant economic activity: Packaging manufacturing generated in the EU by itself  a turnover  of EUR 355 billion 17  in 2018 and the operators in waste its management, including reuse and Deposit Return Systems (DRS), EUR 15 billion 18 . Packaging for e-commerce, estimated global turnover of EUR 57 billion in 2022, increased from 2017 till 2021 annually by 20% 19 . In general, business is calling for a clear EU framework that supports a shift of their activities towards more sustainability and ensures growing supplies of recycled materials.

2.    Problem definition

2.1 Problems and intervention logic

The problems can be directly derived from the waste hierarchy established in the WFD: underexploited prevention-reuse-recycling and too much incineration and landfill. The total packaging waste generation in the EU increased from 66 million tonnes in 2009 to 78.5 million tonnes in 2019 (19% growth, more than GNI). The PPWD from 1994 could not reverse this trend. The COVID-19 pandemic might have further enhanced the trend due to more internet sales, more sales in supermarkets for food consumed at home instead of restaurants and more take-away/prepared home delivery of food. The annual packaging waste generated was estimated in 2018 at 173 kg per inhabitant in the EU , an increase of 27 kg compared to 2009. This quantity varied from 74 kg in Croatia to 228 kg in Ireland. Figure 1 shows the rising trend in packaging waste generation, in particular for paper and plastics. Plastic packaging is the most carbon intensive material, with a total of 1.8 tonnes of CO2e emitted for the lifecycle of one tonne of plastic packaging. It is followed by paper/board and glass, which have emissions of 809 and 565 kg CO2e per tonne, respectively. Wood packaging has 19 kg CO2e net emissions per tonne, while for steel and aluminium they are negative.

Figure 1 Trend in Packaging Waste Generation per capita for the packaging materials (EU-27 countries) 20

The second group of problems relates to barriers to packaging circularity e.g., an increased use of packaging design features that inhibit recycling, increased cross-contamination of compostable recycling streams 21 , substances in packaging that may be hazardous and confusing labelling of packaging for consumer to sort it. Thus, the priority of reuse and recycling over recovery and landfill is still not yet fully enforced. Figure 2 shows that recycling rates stagnate, while 15% went 2018 into incineration and 19% was still landfilled.

Figure 2 Packaging waste treatment (littering always below 0,5%)20

Against the background of the Russian invasion in Ukraine and the subsequent impacts on the energy markets, a comparison of recycling vs incineration with energy recovery might be useful: According to a recent LCA conducted by the JRC 22 , 1 tonne of PET waste going into mechanical recycling saves 2.15 tonnes CO2e and 1.85 tonnes CO2e when going into chemical recycling, whereas its incineration with energy recovery results in additional 1,2 tonnes CO2e. In terms of fossil resource use, 1 tonne PET waste going into mechanical recycling and chemical recycling recovers 65.9 GJ and 59.7 GJ respectively, and 12.3 GJ in case it is incinerated with energy recovery. The results were similar for the management of packaging waste from Expanded Polysterene. Thus, recycling of plastic waste is approximately 5 times better than incineration with energy recovery in terms of fossil fuel use; in terms of climate change, recycling leads to savings, while incineration to additional emissions. 

Figure 3 provides an overview of Member States' recycling performance vis-à-vis the current and future targets for all packaging. These recycling rates are still based on the old calculation methodology. It is estimated that the application of the new methodology will result in a reduction of the reported recycling rates of 5-20%.

(¹) Eurostat estimate (²) Provisional data (³) Break in series (⁴) Estimated data (⁵) 2018 data instead of 2019 Source: EUROSTAT

The EEA assessments 23 , based on 2019 data and considering success and risk factors and including estimates how the new calculation methodology reduced the Member States recycling performance, show that the recycling rates stagnate. 10 Member States are at risk of not reaching the overall packaging recycling target for 2025 (EL, HR, CY, LT, HU, MT, PL, RO, SK), 11 Member States are at risk of not meeting two or more material specific targets (BG, EL, ES, HR, CY, HU, MT, PL, PT, RO, SK) and 20 Member States are at risk of not reaching at least one of the material specific recycling targets (BG, CZ, IE, EL, ES, FR, HR, IT, CY, LV, LT, LU, HU, MT, AT, PL, PT, RO, SK, FI). The reasons for the variety of the national recycling rates (and waste generation levels) are differences of the waste management and infrastructure established in the Member States, which are mainly a consequence of the national implementation of the waste directives. These differences are compiled in the regular, country specific Commission’s Early Warning Reports, which contain a detailed country profile, a thorough analysis of the success and risk factors likely to influence future performance and conclusions. Typical examples for such factors are rules for reuse or deposit return systems. The assessment of the Commission’s Early Warning Reports, has revealed so far that for packaging waste, the most challenging packaging waste stream, in terms of recycling is plastic. The assessment found that 19 MS might be potentially at risk of missing the 50% recycling target in 2025. The main reasons for not meeting the recycling targets are the low separate collection rates for packaging waste. Also, economic operators and the Member States have problems to correctly interpret the data to be reported.

The third group of problems relates to downcycling and the low levels of uptake of recycled content in plastic packaging, which limits the EU's ability to reduce the use of virgin materials in new packaging and products. Market failures and shortcomings in the current regulatory framework are a drag on the profitability of recycling activities and put a strain on investment in technologies and the supply logistic needed to ensure that packaging is collected, sorted and recycled to a sufficiently high quality. These shortcomings include: a quality risk associated with the use of recycled content; the fact that market prices of virgin materials do not include environmental impacts associated with their production and use; and a non-optimal functioning of markets for secondary raw materials related to the lack of appropriate quality standards and information failure. High and growing levels of packaging waste and too little packaging waste going into high quality recycling.

Figure 4, which gives the full intervention logic, building on the problems tree and showing their relationship to the objectives and the policy options, which are then described in the following sections:

Context

Green Deal – Transition to a lower carbon, circular economy, Plastic Strategy, Circular Economy Action Plan, Zero Pollution Action Plan

Drivers

Market failures

- Externalities and fragmented market

- Information failures (unclear labelling)

- Suboptimal market structure along the waste value chain

Regulatory failures

- Delayed / incorrect transposition of current Directive

- Essential Requirements poorly designed, unenforceable, and unevenly applied

- Difficulties of the Member States to ensure compliance with national recycling targets

- SUPD and ORD only cover plastic packaging, and this partly

 

Problems
(highly interrelated)

High level of and growing packaging waste:

- High levels of avoidable packaging

- Increasing single use packaging

Barriers to packaging circularity:

- Packaging design features that inhibit recycling

- Cross contamination of compostable recycling stream

- Reuse systems not cost efficient

- Inconsistent and confusing labelling

 

 

Consequences

Environmental impacts

- Climate impacts

- Littering

- Landfill / incineration / export at end life

- Presence of hazardous substances

Economic impacts

- Inefficient use of resources

- High costs of packaging

- Inefficient and costly waste management

 

Objectives

General objective to reduce negative environmental impacts of packaging and packaging waste and improve the functioning of the internal market

Specific objectives to meet this general objective is:

1.Reduce the generation of packaging waste

2.Promote a circular economy for packaging in a cost-efficient way

3.Promote the uptake of recycled content in packaging

 

Polity options

Option 1 – Better standardisation and clearer Essential Requirements

Option 2 – Mandatory targets for waste reduction, reuse and minimum recycled content in plastic packaging, requirements to ensure full recyclability by 2030 and harmonised product rules

Option 3 – Higher mandatory targets and additional product requirements

2.1.1. High levels of avoidable packaging

Ratio packaging material weight/packaged product weight

Light-weighting efforts within material categories have led to a relative increase in packaging material efficiency on a per unit basis (i.e. the amount of packaging by weight used for a certain application). This has reduced the unit weight by an average 26% from 1990-2015. However, there are significant variations in the weight of packaging within a packaging material groups for a certain product type, as evidenced by Figure 5. Accordingly, there are still many examples of packaging that are heavier and larger than functionality requires, mainly for marketing reasons. In e-commerce, over-packaging is even more evident (extra outer packaging and empty space (see Figure 6). Moreover, light-weighting of packaging has been accompanied by a shift to materials with a worse environmental footprint, particularly from metal and glass to plastic and paper/board.

Figure 5: Variation in Packaging Weights of Still Wine Bottles*     Figure 6: Example of oversized packaging in e-commerce

*Source: Eunomia report December 2021

Increase in the proportion of packaging that is single-use

Country specific trends of packaging reuse indicate a reduction in reusable primary and tertiary packaging (no separate data are available for secondary packaging) over the past two decades. The reuse of consumer (primary) packaging is increasingly uncommon and is limited primarily to certain beverage packaging at a national scale. Even within beverage packaging, a steep decline in reusables has been recorded, with some exceptions in the hospitality sector. Table 1 shows the Member States with the greatest market share decreases for refillable bottles for beer and carbonated soft drinks over the last two decades. The highest being Denmark with an 80% reduction in market share of refillables for that categories of beverages.

Table 1 Change in Refillables’ Market Share for beer and soft drinks, 1999-2019 (Source GlobalData Reloop 2019)

Country

Market Share refillables 1999

Market Share refillables 2019

% difference

Denmark

93%

13%

-80%

Finland

80%

4%

-76%

Romania

70%

13%

-57%

Bulgaria

74%

22%

-52%

Hungary

63%

11%

-52%

Slovak R.

69%

20%

-49%

Sweden

44%

4%

-40%

Germany

73%

54%

-19%

France

9%

3%

-6%

The tertiary sector remains the strongest in terms of reuse practices. However, there are still several transport packaging items with promising potential to improve.

As products, materials and consumption patterns have evolved, there has been a significant rise in the use of one-way packaging, especially single-use plastic. The evolving retail landscape, with larger distribution networks, produced and packed on high-speed packaging lines, have exerted a downward pressure on reuse. This trend is likely to continue despite the introduction of the SUPD. There have been recent signals, albeit on a small scale, that this decline in reusable primary packaging may be slowing in some areas and for some consumer packaging types. There is significant opportunity in this sector to build upon a rise in consumer awareness, and the growing popularity of packaging free/zero waste shops. Some Member States are taking action to encourage reuse, through for example: binding and non-binding reuse targets, Green Public Procurement (GPP) and/or use of funds from the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) schemes to promote reuse. While welcome, such initiatives at Member State level may challenge the integrity of the internal market and might not be proportionate.

2.1.2 Barriers to packaging circularity

Data from both Eurostat and market data reports 24 shows increased use of packaging design characteristics that may inhibit recycling. Packaging is non-recyclable because it poses challenges for most sorting systems and recycling operations. From 2012 till 2020, the share of unrecyclable packaging has grown significantly.

Many ‘non-recyclable’ packaging types are technically recyclable, but the processes associated with their collection and sorting can be costly and inefficient, associated with relatively low quality/quantity of useful output and a lack of sufficient demand in end markets. In terms of packaging design, the shift away from glass and metal packaging towards lighter, alternative materials, such as multi-layer flexible packaging, tubs, and trays, which are not always recyclable, puts pressure on re-processors. They would need to improve their infrastructure, but in the absence of incentives, they rather reject these types of packaging, which then end up incinerated, landfilled or exported abroad. Furthermore, the switch to lightweight packaging, which facilitates on-the-go consumption also results in increased litter in the environment.

Latest data shows that 17% of packaging is currently non-recyclable 25 , 7% could become recyclable in the future using the existing technology, but the remaining 10% only if there are further technological advancements. Under this estimation, it is assumed that all steel, glass and wooden packaging are fully recyclable, which may not be the case in practice. Plastic packaging represents a particular challenge. According to the RecyClass methodology developed by the Plastic Recyclers Europe, 57% of plastic packaging could be repartitioned in classes A, B and C 26 with the remaining 44% having significant or major design issues that highly affect its recyclability or make it unrecyclable. The average rate of plastic packaging recycled in 2019 as declared by the EU Member States was 40.6% (down from 41.4% in 2018); however, in most countries this refers to volumes collected for recycling, while the effectively recycled plastic packaging is estimated at only 14%  27 . There are several related challenges in respect of the packaging recyclability and many related negative consequences. Environmentally, this has negative consequences since the landfilling/incineration of recyclable materials results in increased GHG emissions. Continued reliance on virgin materials rather than recycled ones increases resource use footprint and puts pressure on biodiversity.

Cross-contamination of conventional and compostable recycling streams

The demand for bio-based and compostable plastics has grown substantially and this trend persists because certain Member States organised the collection of the organic waste of households with the compostable bags. This system of collection is working well following the information coming from the composter association. The use of compostable plastic materials alongside conventional plastics in consumer packaging may led to confusion about its correct end-of-life management if not well explained to consumers. Inconsistent labelling practices across the EU may confuse consumers about how to dispose of compostable packaging at the end of life, making their correct sorting challenging, and increasing cross-contamination between packaging streams. Differences in systems for packaging waste collection and treatment of such materials at the end of life can result in situations where a compostable packaging may be correctly separated and subsequently composted in an industrial facility in one Member State but identified as contamination and disposed as residual waste from composting in another.

At present, food packaging, disposable tableware and bags are the largest end use segment for bio-based and compostable plastics, and the major growth driver for compostable polymer consumption. Some countries encourage the use of compostable single-use carrier bags in shops also for fruit and vegetables and bio-waste collections. In this way, compostable plastics may also play a potential role in reducing contamination levels in bio-waste collection and treatment systems.

Hazardous substances in packaging

Numerous additives are used to provide different functionalities to packaging materials, in particular to plastics and rubber. We know that some of these substances have specific hazardous properties while for many others we know they are not hazardous. For others, information on their potential hazards is lacking as highlighted in a number of publications 28 , 29 , 30 and technical reports 31 where hazardous substances in plastics, including in plastic packaging, have been identified. We often also do not know to what extent they are used to manufacture packaging and to what extent they remain therein. When these substances are present in packaging, they can impact human health and the environment because of their release into food or other materials, via contact with the skin or through the environment as a result of leaching or the release of dust during the service life and waste management of the packaging material. The adverse environmental impacts associated to the presence of certain metals in packaging, such as beverage crates and pallets, has been assessed in the past 32 . Upon mechanical recycling, these substances will be reintroduced into the chain within the recovered material 33 . This leads to the exposure of users of new articles made with recycled materials to substances of concern. Therefore, the presence of substances of concern in recycled materials, also in relation to recycled materials from packaging 34 , 35 , represents a potential risk to users and reduces the confidence of supply chain operators (e.g. plastic converters) and of consumers in recycled materials.

The problems associated with the presence of substances of concern in packaging can be summarised as:

·Hazardous substances in packaging can be released in different ways, resulting in exposure to humans and the environment. This exposure can contribute to human morbidity or mortality, ecosystem degradation and biodiversity loss.

·The presence of hazardous substances in packaging can result in contaminated recycled materials. This reduces confidence in recycled materials and may result in the destruction or final disposal of waste that could otherwise be potentially recycled. In turn, this often leads to an increase in CO2 emissions due to the need to substitute with primary material and runs counter to achieving the EUs climate neutrality objectives.

The current proposal aims to address these problems by better defining the hazardous substances in scope, by covering the full life cycle of substances in packaging, covering both effects on human health and the environment, and paying particular attention to the circularity of materials recovered from packaging, ensuring that substances of concern are not kept in the loop.

Waste management and reuse systems not cost efficient

Waste sorters and recyclers frequently complain that the choices by packaging producers as the composition of packaging, the design in view of its treatment at the end of life and its collection do not take account the waste management. This results in further complexity of decontamination or purification and has negative consequences for the cost of treatment of the waste streams. Moreover, due to the scattered sorting and recycling markets, there is limited potential for economies of scale. In the absence of a clear legal framework incentivising circularity of packaging, there is also an investment risk for the recycling industry. The industry is cautious to invest in new technologies and unable to achieve economies of scale for innovative activities.

When reuse systems are established, such as DRS for refillable bottles, those who place refillable containers on the market incur the full costs of refill and collection schemes, compared to economic operators placing one-way packaging on the market, who typically only pay for a share of the end-of-life management cost. This imbalance creates an economic incentive to use single-use packaging. On the other hand, closed pool systems, where the reusable packaging has to go back to the initial packer, might be less environmentally beneficial than single use packaging, if the transport distance is very big, or be a risk for food hygiene.

Moreover, it is often unclear whether a given item, after a certain use, should be classified as waste or not. If an item becomes waste and is then reused, it must undergo a ‘preparing for reuse’ process. Many national administrations consider that reusable packaging undergoing preparing for reuse becomes waste. This results in additional administrative burden for users of reusable transport packaging, which must apply and re-apply for multiple waste licences.

Confusing labelling about the recyclability and separation of packaging waste

Efficient waste collection relies in the first place on correct waste sorting at source by households. The importance of citizens’ cooperation is widely acknowledged 36 , 37 . Currently observed capture rates (i.e. how much of all separately collectable waste is deposited in the appropriate separate collection receptacle) and misthrow rates vary considerably between different collection systems 38 , suggesting that significant efficiency gains are possible if best practices are adopted more widely throughout the EU. To correctly sort their waste, consumers need to feel both, motivated and competent, as well as supported by an environment that provides them with adequate information and opportunities to do so 39 . While separate waste collection schemes have been in place now in most EU Member States for several decades, evidence shows that a considerable level of confusion persists among citizens with regard to correct sorting behaviour 40 . This is particularly true for plastic packaging, given the wide range of polymers and components in such packaging.

Consumers are confronted with a large amount of packaging related labels and other information on packaging, some of which is actually targeted at waste operators (e.g., alphanumerical codes indicating packaging materials). Some codes convey information regarding the end-of-life treatment, which may not be relevant in their local context (e.g. recyclability, compostability), some of which bear information on the payment of EPR fees (recycling arrows or “Grüne Punkt”, widely confused with indications of recyclability or recycled content) and other environmental claims (e.g. recycled plastic content, reusable). A divergent landscape of mandatory national and voluntary industry labels has emerged on the packaging composition in the EU market, its recyclability, content of recycled material, sorting instructions for consumers and other information linked to the sustainable management of packaging waste, e.g. on participation of packaging to a deposit return system or reusable packaging. All this information can be confusing and contradictory due to the number of labels, some of which look similar but do not mean the same thing, and symbols providing potentially misleading and/or unsubstantiated information. Of course, consumer information through labelling is not the only driver of consumer behaviour, but they are an important precondition for the capability and willingness to correctly separate waste.

Unclear and non-harmonised labelling practices across the EU result in barriers to the single market with increased costs for packaging producers and reduced capture of recyclable materials, their contamination and increased costs of reprocessing 41 , 42 . The problem results in waste operators ultimately bearing the costs of additional sorting, washing and disposal, as well as lower prices and fewer markets for the resulting low quality of recyclates. Evidence shows that a considerable level of confusion persists among citizens with regard to correct sorting behaviour 43  that have emerged in the absence of harmonized EU rules. For instance, the combination of inappropriate and heterogeneous colours and/or shape of waste containers and bins discourages citizens´ engagement and results in lower recycling rates 44 . Even when labels on products and waste receptacles are used to assist sorting, they can create confusion when not properly coordinated between producers and waste collectors, when producers are required or allowed to display several uncoordinated labels or when different producer groups establish their own labels 45 . The confusion is enhanced because the citizens increasingly travel or move within the EU: On one side, the consumers are unable to properly separate the waste during their stay in another Member State because of their habits at home, and on the other side they are confused when they are back in their home country, why e.g. paper cups with a plastic inlay have to go into a different collection stream than elsewhere.

2.1.3 Quality of recycling

The current recycling of waste is dominated by downcycling, where the recycled material is of lower quality and functionality than the original material and the original functionality must be replaced by virgin material (e.g. when plastic packaging is recycled into garden furniture or glass into filling material in road building). Instead, high quality recycling allows the recyclate to be used in the same way (“closed loop recycling”).

The rates of uptake of recycled material in packaging varies significantly across the different materials. E.g. broader categories of paper and cardboard, aluminium, steel, and glass show higher levels of recycled content than plastic packaging. Within these categories, however, current rates of uptake vary depending on the packaging application, which is related also to certain regulatory requirements, for example for food contact materials. In this way, in the paper and cardboard category, the average level of recycled content in new packaging in corrugated cardboard is 89%, whilst for beverage cartons it is negligible. Many materials are not being recycled to a quality that allows them to be recycled back into packaging. For producers, there is a quality risk associated with the use of recycled content, in particular for paper and plastics, which is compounded by a lack of information on the quality and availability of recyclates. In addition, the relative environmental impacts of the production of virgin materials compared to the secondary materials are not reflected in their market prices, which means that external costs are not incorporated into the price paid by producers.

2.2 Links between problems

There is a high degree of linkage between the three problems (high and growing levels of packaging waste, barriers to circular packaging and downcycling), which means that the policy options respond to them together. For example, barriers to packaging circularity that inhibit recycling contribute to the growing levels of packaging waste and downcycling. Similarly, the low levels of recycled content in packaging contribute to the increased use of natural resources, which is also one of the consequences of the growth of packaging generation.

There are also potential trade-offs, for example, between designing for lightweight packaging and its recyclability, between using high levels of recycled content and light-weighting or between lowering impacts related the manufacturing and logistics and those of the end-of-life processes. It should be also always kept in mind that packaging must be fit for purpose to fulfil its core functions and that there may be trade-offs between the objectives related to packaging and those of products, which it is intended to contain, protect, handle, deliver and present.

2.3 What are the problem drivers?

At the root of the issues described above are two key problem drivers, market failures and regulatory failures. The first problem driver is market failure i.e., where markets fail to deliver an efficient outcome from a societal perspective. In respect of packaging, market failure takes several forms:

·Externalities – where market prices do not internalise the costs to society associated with an activity,

·Fragmented markets with inefficient supply chains – whereby a misalignment of incentives exists, meaning that socially desirable actions are not undertaken because market actors have different, not aligned objectives,

·Imperfect information – information is needed for markets to operate efficiently, and where market information is imperfect, or not equally available to all market participants, sub-optimal decisions can lead to sub-optimal societal outcomes.

·Suboptimal market structure along the waste value chain, in part because of different requirements in different regions and countries.

Case study of a pan-European snack producer: Over the last two years, France, Italy, Bulgaria, Luxembourg and Portugal have introduced or have stated an intention to introduce mandatory national packaging waste labels. This is challenging for snack producers as snack packaging tends to have a small surface area for displaying the mandatory consumer information. So, if the additional mandatory information cannot fit, then different products needs to be made for the concerned Member States, who might have otherwise been able to supplied with the same products previously.

Modelling of how the proliferation of national mandatory packaging waste logos impacts turnover resulted in a double digit loss for one of the company brands because it would be required to make different labels (and effectively produce different packaged products) for each EU country that adopts a national mandatory label. Almost ¾ of the losses would come from the minimum order quantity impact on supply chain efficiencies (smaller EU countries would no longer be able to achieve the minimum run lengths required to make production cost efficient). Another big costs factor (appr 1/5) would come from other supply chain inefficiencies, such as not being able to move packaged snacks from cancelled orders in one EU country to another EU country without incurring relabelling costs. It would also increase food loss in the order of 1.2% of the turnover as a result of more changeovers in manufacturing. Printing new labels for this scenario contributed a minor amount (0.3% of turnover) to the cost impact.

The second problem driver is regulatory failure. The PPWD is failing to achieve its objectives due to a mixture of poor implementation and enforcement, not being up to date with the policy context, and by leaving too much flexibility and discretion to the national authorities. In particular, the Essential Requirements

·Fail to reflect the waste hierarchy, as there is not sufficient recognition that reuse takes precedence over recovery, or that recycling is preferable to energy recovery; and

·Are unenforceable as their formulation is too imprecise for Member States to enforce them – a situation compounded by the lack of requirements on producers to report on conformity.

Therefore, there is not adequate enforcement activity in the Member States and surveys suggest that the Essential Requirements have had little influence on packaging design. This was noted by the Scoping Study 46 as well as in the 2014 Fitness Check. 47  When Member States do try to enforce the essential requirements, they are obliged to create national rules, which in turn are not compatible with the free movement of goods and the protection of the EU internal market. In addition, there have been delays in transposition of the Directive. After the expiry of the 2-year transposition period, the 2018 amendment of the PPWD (Directive 2018/852) was not transposed in time by 23 Member States. Almost four years after the adoption of the Directive, 3 Member States have still not transposed the directive (in April 2022). This necessarily implies that such countries are also not implementing measures necessary to meet the new requirements, such has higher recycling rates in 2025. Indeed, the upcoming Commission’s Early Warning Report shows preliminarily that 20 Member States are at risk of not reaching at least one of the material specific recycling targets.

Also in the SUPD, regulatory failure is evident 48 : only 13 Member States have banned plastic straws and expanded polystyrene food and drink packaging within the deadline set under the SUPD. The deadline for the transposition in national laws of bans and labelling rules on certain plastic products was July 2021, but the result has so far been a “patchwork of packaging laws for the consumers and companies.

2.4 How is the problem likely to develop?

In terms of the overall trend, packaging waste generation in the EU is expected to increase further in line with economic growth and greater consumption of goods (see also Section 5.2). Underlying this, issues such as over-packaging and unnecessary single use packaging will continue. Over the past decade, the amount of difficult to recycle packaging has increased at a greater rate than the total packaging waste generated, and there is no sign of this trend abating. There are warning signs that Member States are struggling to meet the recycling targets for 2025/2030. Legislation and initiatives to combat the current trends have been introduced at both EU and Member State level, but the problems identified in Section 2.1 would remain insufficiently addressed. There is a risk that a failure to tackle these issues through harmonised legislative approaches would lead to national approaches that weaken the internal market as already evidenced by a growing number of national measures on packaging labelling for recycling and consumer sorting, different national approaches to defining recyclable packaging or mandating the use of compostable plastic packaging for certain packaging applications, in particular lightweight plastic carrier bags.

Furthermore, it is unlikely that the recently adopted SUPD will stimulate the increase in recycled content uptake across packaging beyond PET bottles, whilst voluntary industry initiatives (e.g CPA) are either limited in time or different in scope and unlikely to provide for a sufficient pull effect for all problematic packaging types. Indeed, CPA is focused on achieving an uptake of 10 million tonnes of recycled plastic in products by 2025. There is, though, an increasing consumer awareness and interest in packaging and so an opportunity to build upon this trend. However, without widespread supporting policy, these small shifts, such as emergence of zero-waste shops, are unlikely to have anything but minimal effect. Finally, new technologies are expected to improve packaging, like chemical recycling, block-chain technology, digital watermarking. However, their commercial viability still requires appropriate legislative environment.

2.5 Summary of consequences

The problems described in Section 2.1 lead to three main groups of inter-connected consequences, they 1) threaten the integrity of the EU Internal Market, 2) hinder the transition towards a circular economy, and 3) generate negative environmental impacts. The problems negatively impact on the functioning of the internal market. This presents challenges to the free circulation of packaged goods – what can be placed on the market in one Member States may not be in another, and results in additional costs for producers to have to adapt to divergent legislations. The lack of harmonisation leads to missed opportunites for economies of scale and can, for example, result in under-investment in reprocessing capacity and innovation, act as a drag on productivity growth and lead to higher costs for producers and consumers. Beyond costs for industries due to the proliferation of national labels, even more significant efficiency losses in the supply chain as a consequence of the fragmented EU market are due to (1) not reaching minimum order quantities, (2) reduced demand because of a smaller product variety and (3) additional stock holding.

Case study labelling of cosmetics: Cosmetic companies are confronted with a specific challenge due to the small size of their products, which makes complying with additional on-pack information requirements -without compromising the legibility- particularly difficult. Accommodating multiple instructions can be addressed by decreasing the size of the label’s font. However, this option is in most instances unworkable, since labels are already dense and include a comprehensive set of information, notably due to other European regulatory requirements such as those imposed by the Cosmetic Products Regulation to ensure the safe use of the products. Increasing the size of the packaging does not seem either an appropriate course of action at a time when companies are compelled to reduce packaging waste.

Therefore, to comply with the different sorting instructions recently imposed by various Member States, companies chose to add a specific sticker by country. The cost for over-stickering to comply with the various national labelling requirements following the transposition of the PPWD in France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Austria were estimated to reach 3% of the revenues in these markets; these significant costs are because over-stickering in most cases cannot be automated and needs to be applied manually.

With regards to the circular economy, the increasing demand for packaging, combined with low levels of reuse, low recyclability and low levels of recycled content will continue to lead to an increased use of non-renewable resources. The lack of clarity as to the definition of recyclable packaging and other related barriers that prevent an optimal functioning of reuse and recycling markets make it harder for Member States to meet the PPWD's recycling targets, use more recycled material and create jobs in these sectors.

Thirdly, the manufacture of packaging, accounting for both resource extraction and subsequent production processes, has significant negative environmental externalities. Next to the carbon emissions, litter from packaging, often from on-the-go consumption, is expensive to clean up, and has severe consequences. Littered plastics are a particular concern in marine environments, where they can degrade and break down to form micro-plastics, which re-enter the food chain via marine animals consumed by humans, where they potentially cause health risks. Until 2018, GHG emissions from packaging rose to 59 million tonnes CO2e per annum, which is more than the total GHG emissions generated in Hungary. Unless GHG emissions are reduced, packaging will be inconsistent with the EU's objective of being carbon neutral by 2050. Instead, packaging induced GHG emissions are projected to increase to 66 million tonnes CO2e in 2030 and 93 million tonnes CO2e per annum in 2040 (Figure 9).

Figure 9 GHG emissions million tonnes CO2e (Source: Eunomia baseline report)

On top of the air emissions (CO2, CH4, NOx, SOx, Particular Matters), packaging waste is a notable soil and land pollutant 49  and makes up about half of marine littering. Littered plastics are a particular concern in marine environments, where they can degrade and break down to form micro-plastics, which re-enter the food chain via marine animals consumed by and carried over to humans, potentially leading to health risks. Finally, the problems in terms of hazardous substances reduce recycling rates and increases incineration and landfilling.

2.5 Who is affected and how?

Society as a whole (general public): Packaging and packaging waste represent a huge burden to society when issues associated with their manufacture, use, and disposal are not sufficiently addressed. Potential adverse impacts include, but are not limited to, environmental pollution, depletion of finite resources, unnecessary emissions, economic loss, and damage to public health.

Consumers: EU consumers lack access to clear, harmonised, and reliable information about packaging. This lack of information prevents them from making well-informed decisions regarding the most appropriate packaging options for their purchases. It also reduces the likelihood of consumers effectively and consistently engaging in the correct end-of-life strategy for the packaging waste they generate. The consumers who want to do the right thing are often offered only single-use packaging and/or (perceived) unnecessary packaging.

Brands: Brands, including retailers´ own brands and “no names”, need packaging to fulfil several functions, including the protection of the product and maintaining the brand's image. At the same time, they are under pressure from consumers, who are increasingly environmentally conscious. As a result, many brands are innovating and redesigning their packaging to maintain competitiveness. However, they are doing this against a backdrop of a regulatory landscape that is not fully harmonised across EU Member States, with uncertainties, for example, in the way EPR schemes might choose to revise their fee structures and reporting requirements and define recyclable or reusable packaging.

Packaging manufacturers: Packaging manufacturers need to meet the demands of the brands they supply and comply with regulatory requirements. To remain competitive, they need a long-term investment certainty to be able to innovate, deliver cost-efficient solutions and to adapt their manufacturing capacities.

Waste management companies, including local public authorities organising waste collection and treatment, and recycling industries: Operators in the waste stream see their profitability limited due to scattered markets and regulatory failures. Harmonisation of the economic framework and increased legal clarity would foster co-ordination of investments and a more cost-efficient waste management.

3.    Why should the EU act?

3.1.Legal basis

The current legal basis of the PPWD is Article 114 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union ‘…internal market shall comprise an area without internal frontiers in which the free movement of goods, persons, services and capital is ensured), and this should not change. Based on this provision, the Union can adopt measures for the approximation of laws, regulations or administrative action in Member States, which aim for a smooth functioning of the internal market. Most goods require packaging at several stages of their product life. Non-harmonised rules related to packaging create barriers to the free flow of goods and services in the internal market. One of the objectives of this initiative is therefore to further detail the essential requirements for packaging, which are conditions for placing packaging on the market and should be fully harmonised.

Recent internal market notifications from the Member States show that the implementation of some not-fully-harmonised provisions of the Directive, such as labelling requirements, or vague requirements, such as essential requirements on packaging minimisation or recyclability, are causing additional cost to the economic operators. These are strongly calling for further harmonisation not only to be able to work more cost efficient, but also to overcome regulatory uncertainty about the environmental requirements for packaging, so that appropriate infrastructure investments can be made.

3.2.Subsidiarity: Necessity of EU action and EU added value

The problems cannot be sufficiently addressed by the Member States alone. The EU packaging market is in many respects one large market, rather than 27 individual markets. The packaging market is characterised by high-levels of cross-border trade between Member States, with many producers placing packaging on the market in multiple Member States. National initiatives could perhaps bring certain benefits but would inevitably contribute to further fragmentation of the internal market. Similarly, the packaging-related environmental concerns are widespread, with key underlying causes being common across all Member States. 

There is clear added value in setting common requirements at EU level, as this will ensure a harmonised and well-functioning internal market across all Member States and, therefore, a level playing field for packaging producers. With requirements and targets set at EU level, the move towards packaging being reusable or recyclable in an economically viable manner will take place in a coherent way in all Member States, creating a larger and more efficient market. Harnessing its strength to support the move towards a circular economy for packaging will support the achievement of targets in a more cost-effective way.

Economies of scale will be achieved through consistent approaches to, for example, influencing packaging design in such a way that packaging can be more cost-efficiently collected, sorted and recycled everywhere in the EU. This approach will be reinforced by harmonised criteria for modulation of EPR fees, which will provide an additional economic impetus for compliance and increased clarity as to the roadmap for investments in circular packaging design and innovative sorting and recycling technologies. Member State action alone could not achieve such harmonisation and thus economies of scale. The proposed measures will not go beyond what is necessary to provide regulatory certainty while ensuring a high level of protection of health and of the environment. EU action is therefore justified and necessary.

3.3.Interface with and gaps within the existing legal framework for waste 

One of the problems in the waste management of the EU is that huge amounts of waste are shipped abroad. The EU´s exports of waste have increased by 75% since 2004 to reach 33 million tonnes in 2020, which is a considerable loss in its transition to a circular economy. This problem is addressed with the Commission proposal for a new regulation on waste shipments 50 , fostering the preparation for reuse and recycling in the EU, in order to unlock the potential for more resource circularity in the EU internal market. In concrete, it modernises and simplifies the procedures for intra-EU shipments of waste, shifting from paper-based to electronic data interchange, and restricts waste shipment for landfills and incineration in line with the waste hierarchy and proximity principle. Thus, this initiative strives to keep more waste within the EU and further enhances the infrastructure of a single market for high quality secondary raw materials. The PPWD review now needs to build up on this, with a product-based legislation to ensure the transformation into a real packaging value chain.

The data available hints that neither measures undertaken by the Member States based on the PPWD, nor based on the ORD or SUPD are sufficient to ensure that they meet all the specific targets for the recycling rates set out in the PPWD. Moreover, there is significant potential to improve the packaging waste recycling even in Member States which will meet at least some of the established recycling targets.

The scope of the SUPD only covers about 70% of all plastic packaging and the measures mainly address the prevention of littering. The targets for recycled content in new plastic packaging set in the SUPD are only for plastic beverage bottles (less than 20% of plastic packaging). However, the reduction of plastic waste and the benefits of more recycled content should materialise for all plastic packaging. Moreover, the SUPD does not address the design of plastic packaging in order to improve their recyclability for higher recycling rates and - quality. Therefore, the problems about plastic packaging raised above cannot be tackled with the SUPD due to its limited scope in terms of products and intervention areas.

Coherence is ensured between the current PPWD and the ORD, the latter providing -beyond the obligations laid down in the PPWD- an additional incentive to decrease waste and increase recycling. The ORD not affecting materials other than plastics should be seen as an economic incentive for MS to take action. The principle in waste legislation that the use of economic instruments is indeed left to subsidiarity and only an indicative list is included in the acts, will be maintained. The national flexibility foreseen in the POR means that Member States would not have to introduce a plastic tax or other instruments to induce less non-recycled plastic waste and they are even free to decide to take no action to reduce the contribution. Until today, no Member States has chosen to share the burden of the contribution with industry, i.e. to opt for such an instrument. The envisaged measures in a new PPW Regulation with respect to waste reduction and better recycling will contribute to put in place concrete measures that are directly enforceable. They are designed in a way that they do not interfere with potential national instruments incentivised by the ORD but rather are mutually reinforcing and complementary. The Commission will continue to inquire from Member States best practices related to the impact of the ORD, be it regulatory, fiscal or other measures to reduce the quantity of plastic packaging waste that is not recycled and make them available to all Member States. This will allow them to optimise their national actions to simultaneously meet targets established in the new PPW regulation.

4.    Objectives: What is to be achieved?

The general objective of the legislative proposal is to reduce the negative environmental impacts of packaging and packaging waste, while improving the functioning of the internal market. This general objective responds to the problems and their underlying drivers. In particular, it reflects the fact that the EU’s legislation is allowing avoidable environmental impacts and leading to the loss of valuable resources. It also addresses the need for harmonised requirements that strengthen the level-playing field whilst supporting the green transition. The specific objectives to meet this general objective are to:

1.Reduce the generation of packaging waste

2.Promote a circular economy for packaging in a cost-efficient way

3.Promote the uptake of recycled content in packaging

The specific objectives relate to the problems directly, and through them to their underlying drivers. Each option from Table 3 (section 5.2) responds to a specific objective, and thus to a problem or underlying driver.

5.    What are the available policy options?

3.4.Legal instrument: Change from a Directive to a Regulation

The first policy decision to take is the choice of the legal instrument. The present legislation already provides for an extensive control over the management of packaging and packaging waste but has nevertheless resulted in a non-attainment of the general environmental objectives. The regulatory failures of the current Directive (section 2.3), such as (1) delayed or incorrect transposition into national law, (2) poorly designed, hardly to enforce and unevenly applied Essential Requirements and (3) difficulties of the Member States to ensure compliance with national recycling targets revealed that harmonisation is necessary in the form of a regulation, rather than simply revising the current directive (for more details see Annex 5.2). To further promote the move to a low-carbon and circular economy, a new comprehensive set of regulatory solutions is needed. Given the scope and scale of the envisaged measures to be introduced, their harmonised and correct implementation could pose a significant legislative challenge for the Member States. To avoid such a risk, the obligations for placing packaging on the market, such as product-based targets for recycled content or reuse, should be placed on the economic operators. Differing national transposition measures and sometimes unilateral Member States’ actions on packaging policies have led to uneven national regulatory frameworks. This trend is set to continue given the recognised challenges to the packaging sustainability. A patchwork of national transpositions reduces the effectiveness of the policy and puts in jeopardy the effective establishment of a circular economy. This, while potentially welcome from environmental point of view, brings challenges for the integrity of the internal market. The existing barriers can only be removed by more detailed, harmonised rules, which should apply directly to economic operators. These arguments are strongly mirrored in the position papers of all stakeholders and NGOs.

A Regulation will ensure obligations are implemented at the same time and in the same way in all 27 Member States. The same requirements for all market players will provide the necessary legal certainty and reduce distortion of competition, and send clear signals to non-EU market actors, when placing products on the EU market. Furthermore, the Commission will have a mandate to develop implementing measures to flesh out the Regulation further, where necessary, allowing for common rules to be set swiftly. This approach is necessary in view of the calls from industry for further harmonisation and considering political commitments in the European Green Deal and the CEAP to ensure that by 2030 all packaging is reusable or recyclable.

3.5.What is the baseline from which options are assessed?

Under the baseline (or Business As Usual), all relevant EU level and national policies and measures remain in force. In particular, the baseline assumes the full implementation of the SUPD in all Member States by 2030. Two Member States are envisaging the introduction of plastic taxes as economic instrument to implement the Own Resource Decision.

Under the baseline (see Annex 8-1), total packaging waste generated is forecast to increase from 78 million tonnes in 2018 to 92.4 million tonnes in 2030 (+18.7%), and 107 million tonnes in 2040. The volumes of all packaging materials, except glass and metal, are forecast to increase, with plastic packaging increasing over proportionally, from 19% of all packaging placed on the market in 2018 to 23% by 2030. The increase of packaging waste per person in the EU from 161 kg in 2006 to 178 kg in 2019 is projected to accelerate to reach 209 kg in 2030 and 245 kg by 2040. The projected increase in packaging waste, both in absolute terms and per capita, suggests that the ambitions of the Commission for climate-neutral, resource-efficient economic growth set out in the European Green Deal are not compatible with the baseline scenario.

Within the increased waste generation volumes, the overall recycling rate in the EU is projected to increase from 66.5% in 2018 to 69% in 2030 (PPWD: 70%). The proportion of waste sent to landfill is projected to decrease from 18.7% in 2018 to 9.9% in 2030. The remaining waste fraction is sent to incineration, which is projected to increase from 14.7% of total packaging waste in 2018 to 20.4% in 2030. The greatest projected increase in recycling rates between 2018 and 2030 is for plastics. Overall, GHG emissions are projected to increase from 59 million tonnes CO2e per annum in 2018 to 66 million tonnes CO2e in 2030 and 93 million tonnes CO2e per annum in 2040. The monetised environmental cost are projected to increase from EUR 5.9 billion in 2018 to EUR 9.4 billion in 2030 and EUR 17.1 billion in 2040.

3.6.Description of the policy options

All possible measures were compiled for analysis based on three studies from an external consultant, stakeholder workshops, an Online Public Consultation, dedicated interviews and stated objectives and measures in the European Green Deal and CEAP (Annex 2). These measures were screened for criteria, such as whether they could be enforced, monitored etc. (Annex 8.4). After the screening, shortlisted measures were retained for further analysis (see Annex 8.3). The diverse, complex and often interrelated measures were then grouped into 3 policy options. There is a stepping up from option 1 to option 2 to option 3 in terms of their environmental effectiveness but also intrusiveness and burden of implementation. The options are:

·Option 1 contains the measures related to the better standardisation and clearer Essential Requirements. These measures tend to be pre-requisites for measures in other groups.

·Option 2 sets mandatory targets for waste reduction, reuse and minimum recycled content in plastic packaging, requirements to ensure full recyclability by 2030 and harmonised product rules

·Option 3 contains higher mandatory targets and additional product requirements.

The main policy choices for the decision makers in the three intervention areas are the waste reduction targets at Member State level, reuse targets for selected sectors, measures to increase recyclability and targets for recycled content in plastic packaging. Out of the enabling measures, the mandatory establishment of deposit return systems and the labelling rules to facilitate consumers´ sorting are the outstanding policy choices.

Regarding waste reduction, it is evident that Member States and operators will face some challenges to ensure packaging reduction. Member States will have to enforce the EU measures and, with respect to the specific national situation, come up with national measures, which are still in line with the internal market. The regulation gives the Member States flexibility to meet the reduction target, e.g. they can require the Producer Responsibility Organisations (PROs) on their territory to ensure reduction of specific packaging waste by economic instruments.

The measures contained in each option are presented in the Table 2. In order to demonstrate the interlinkages between them, alternatives measures have the same number, e.g. M2b and M2c. Measures concerning the main policy choices are in bold.

Table 2: Description of the policy options (all measures are described in Annex 8.3)

Problems

Intervention area

Option 1: Better standardisation & clearer Essential Requirements

Option 2: Mandatory targets and stricter requirements

Option 3: Far-reaching targets and requirements

High and growing packaging waste

Pre-vention and reuse

M5: Minimization of empty space in packaging in selected sectors, including e-commerce

M1: Update of Essential Requirements to minimize over-packaging

M10a: Revision of CEN standard for defining reusable packaging

M19: providing clarity on the definition of reuse activity versus a “preparing for reuse” activity

M8b: Mandatory reuse targets for selected packaging groups for 2030/2040 in selected sectors +M19+M10a+M10b: Definitions and mandatory requirements for reusable packaging formats set in EU legislation and standards for some formats+M10c: Definition and mandatory standards for reuse systems 

M7: Phase out avoidable / unnecessary packaging

M2b: Mandatory target of 19% reduction of packaging waste per capita in 2030 compared to the baseline +M1+M5

M8c: Mandatory high level targets to increase the reuse of packaging by 2030/2040 in selected sectors +M10a+ M10b+M10c+M19

M2c: Mandatory target of 23% reduction of packaging waste per capita in 2030 compared to the baseline +M1+M5+M7+M3: Banning by 2030 of heaviest packaging for selected items based on existing lighter alternatives

Barriers to packaging circularity

Recycla-bility and com-postability

M21a: All packaging shall be reusable or recyclable by 2030- clarification of Essential Requirements and recyclability definition +M21b: All reusable packaging must be recyclable as of 2030

M22a: Qualitative definition of recyclable packaging

M28: Clarification of biodegradability and compostability and updates of respective Essential Requirements & standard EN 13432

M29a: Allowing compostable and conventional plastics for selected packaging types

M22b: Definition of recyclable packaging based on design for recycling (DfR) criteria complemented by the recyclability assessment procedure and a negative list of non-recyclable packaging characteristics +M21a+M21b+M22a+M23: Harmonisation of EPR Fee Modulation Criteria

M29d: Mandatory compostability for certain out of the selected plastics packaging types and for the remaining ones compostable or conventional plastics possible +M28

M22c: Quantitative definition of recyclable packaging +M21a+M21b+M22a+M23

M29b: Mandatory compostability for all selected plastics packaging types +M28

Low level of recycled content

Recycled content

M37: Definition of Recycled Content and measurement method  

M35em: Broad targets for recycled content in plastic packaging based on contact-sensitivity for 2030 and 2040 +M37

M35eh: Higher ambition, broad targets for recycled content in plastic packaging based on contact-sensitivity for 2030 and 2040 +M37

Enabling measures

Mx: Update of current material-based labelling: Removal of alphanumeric codes for waste sorters

M31: Update of definitions concerning hazardous substance

M32a: Expanding the information on hazardous substances

Ma&b: Mandatory DRS and minimum requirements for all DRS  

M27c-y: Harmonised labelling of products and waste receptacles to facilitate consumers´ sorting (advanced Nordic pictograms system)+Mx+Mk: Restrictions on use of confusing labels

M12-u: Harmonised, mandatory labelling for reusable packaging

M38-j: Labelling criteria for Recycled Content 

M32b: Notification of substances of concern in packaging +M33a: Restrictions of substances under REACH +M31

M40b: Mandatory minimum GPP criteria for packaging of priority products and services

M42b: Harmonization of EPR reporting system

MPCB: Extended reporting obligation on PCB

Mc: Prioritized use of recycled packaging from DRS +Ma&b

M26cc: Waste collection schemes alternative to DRS+Mx+M12-u+M38-j+M27c-y+Mk

M32c: Notification of all substances in packaging +M33b: Restrictions of substances under the reviewed PPWD +M31

M40c: Mandatory minimum GPP criteria for packaging of all products and services

M34b: Mandatory reporting requirement for recycled content for all packaging +M42b + MPCB

6.    What are the impacts of the policy options?

This section presents a summarized analysis of the impact of the measures grouped in options 1, 2 and 3 for the three intervention areas, which are linked to the problems. Subsequently, the impacts of the respective enabling measures are presented per option. The key measures are presented at the beginning in bold and the complementary ones afterwards. Further description of the measures is provided in Annex 8-3.

A detailed analysis was carried out in the respective parts of Annex 9 based on the following assessment criteria: effectiveness; ease of implementation; administrative burden; economic impacts; environmental impacts; social impacts; stakeholder views. A mass flow model over the waste value chain was constructed to allow for quantification of impacts, whenever possible. Annex 4 provides further methodological details.

6.1.1.    Prevention and reuse 

The detailed analysis of the measures in the intervention area prevention can be found in Annex 9.1 and for the reuse in Annex 9.2.

6.1.2.    Measures on prevention and reuse in policy option 1

Measure 5: Minimization of empty space in packaging in selected sectors, including e-commerce

This measure, relevant for e-commerce, electronics, toys, computer hardware and cosmetics sectors, in particular, would set a maximum void (empty) space limit to packaging, with the percentage set to eliminate the worst offenders. This measure would result in an estimated 1.7% reduction in packaging waste generation (mostly cardboard and plastics) compared to the baseline.

In terms of economic impacts, the CBA model indicates material savings of EUR 983 million in 2030 and EUR 1,368 million in 2050, and EPR cost savings of EUR 235 million in 2030 and EUR 355 million in 2050. The environmental impacts are predominantly linked to a reduction in GHG emissions and water use. The change in 2030 relative to the baseline is estimated to be a reduction of 1.1 million tonnes CO2e and 31k m3 of water. The monetary value of the reduction in GHG emission and air pollution is estimated to be EUR 217 million. The social impacts in terms of employment are expected to be minimal, with potential job losses of approximately 3,300 FTEs in 2030 and 4,700 in 2050 in the waste management sector. Stakeholder views showed that 68% considered that there is currently too much packaging around products in the EU.

Measure 1: Update of Essential Requirements to minimize over-packaging

More precise elements for the definition of "over-packaging" would allow Member States to be firmer in enforcing the requirements on packaging minimisation. Packaging performance criteria, as justifiable limits for further packaging minimisation, will be specified through updating standard EN 2004:13428 51 . The need to comply with these criteria could be used to justify packaging weight and volume.

The measure is not expected to create significant administrative burden or economic cost for stakeholders, but - combined with clearer standard, which creates presumption of compliance with the essential requirements - it will improve the effectivness of the essential requirement on packaigng minimisation. A qualitative assessment of the economic impacts indicates impacts on packaging used for marketing purposes. The clearer legal framework for operators to reduce excessive or unnecessary packaging, positive environmental impacts are expected. Stakeholders noted that over-packaging should be clearly defined.

Measure 10a: Revision of CEN standard for defining reusable packaging

The Commission would request CEN to update the current standard EN 13429:2004 with regards to definition of reusable packaging, reusable packaging format and design, reuse systems requirements, return infrastructure and incentivising consumers, supply chain and logistics as well as public engagement. The updated standard will provide a reference point for industry to improve the performance of reuse systems and facilitate their adoption.

The effectiveness of this measure is increased when it is complemented by M10b and M10c. The administrative burden is mainly related to the development of an updated standard based on Commission’s formal request. As with the current standard, the stakeholders would be able to show compliance with the essential requirement on reuse by complying with the harmonised standard, which however, will cover more issues. As a supporting measure, it is not possible to attribute any share of the outcomes assessed under economic, social and environmental impacts but it will support delivery of reuse. There is broad support for CEN standardization from across the spectrum of stakeholders, as long as it takes into account current standards. Two criteria stood out as being of importance for the guidance: the recyclability of reusable packaging and the minimum number of rotations required.

Measure 19: providing clarity on the definition of reuse activity versus a “preparing for reuse” activity

The harmonisation of when reusable packaging is classified as waste will provide EU-wide consistency on the definition of reuse activity versus a “preparing for reuse” activity. The definition would clarify that reusable packaging should be classed as waste only once it has reached the end of its useful life and is discarded. Reusable packaging, in particular tertiary packaging with respect to which this problem is most known, should not be classified as waste when it is cleaned and reconditioned by a third party and is not returned to the same user. This would facilitate uptake and performance of reuse systems.

By overcoming different interpretations at Member State level, the measure would be efficient and easily implemented. The administrative burden on actors in the reuse supply chain would fall due to the reduced need for waste licenses. The measure is expected to reduce costs for producers/fillers and improve the uptake of reuse which will lead to an increase in employment in the reuse sector. It will lead to environmental benefits due to prolonging the life of products, resulting in better use of resources and the avoidance of landfilling. A broad range of stakeholders supports this measure.

6.1.3.    Measures on prevention and reuse in policy option 2

Measure 8b: Mandatory reuse and refilling targets for selected packaging groups for 2030/2040 in selected sectors

This measure introduces targets for reuse systems and refill operations as a percentage of sales with reusable/refillable packaging and aim to reflect both: the proportion of reusable items sold and their durability, i.e. the number of uses/rotations of a multiple use (MU) packaging. The targets will be imposed on the economic operator placing the respective products on the market. The set of mandatory and strict targets, e.g. 100%, would have as a consequence that businesses which only produce single-use packaging for the market in question, they could not adapt to producing reusable packaging. It would be thus at risk of closure. Targets at that level have not been specified in the enclosed reuse and refill measures, but for the packaging types such as large household appliances for which high level targets (90%) have been introduced, these do not refer to the producers that they can sell their products only in single use packaging. A scoping process assessed the full packaging range against 6 criteria 52  for its respective re-use potential. Subsequently, this selection was discussed with the concerned stakeholders and the specific targets were chosen in cooperation. The detailed calculation rules and reporting schemes will be established in an implementing act. Table 3 lists the selected sectors, packaging types and products with the most proportionate economic and environmental impacts. The measure will be complemented by M10a, b, c (standardisation in reuse sector) and M19 (clarification of reuse activity). 

Table 3. Reuse/refill targets for certain packaging in Measure 8b and 8c for 2030 [2040]



Sector

Packaging type - Business model

Packaging groups and products

Target for 2030 [2040] Measure 8b

Target for 2030 [2040] Measure 8c

Food and beverage- HoReCa

Primary - B2C

Beverage (cold and hot) filled into a container at the point of sale for take-away, to be sold in packaging within a system for re-use or refill.

20% [80%]

30% [95%]

Primary-B2C

Food for take-away, to be sold in packaging within a system for re-use or refill

10% [40%]

20% [75%]

Food and beverage-Retail

 

Primary-B2C

Alcoholic beverages other than wine and spirits, and products based on wine, spirits or other fermented beverages mixed with non-alcoholic beverages, to be sold in packaging within a system for re-use or refill.

10% [25%]

20% [75%]

Primary B2C 

Wine, sparkling wine, spirits and other spirituous beverages, to be sold in packaging within a system for re-use or refill. 

5% [15%] 

10% [30%] 

Primary-B2C

Non-alcoholic beverages, such as water, soft drinks, juices, to be sold in packaging within a system for re-use or refill.

10% [25%]

20% [75%]

Tertiary-B2B

Large household appliances e.g., washing machines or fridges, to be sold in reusable packaging

90% [90%]

90% [90%]

Commercial and Industrial

Tertiary-B2B

Goods sold using pallets, crates, foldable boxes, pails and drums for the conveyance or packaging of the goods, to be sold in reusable packaging

30% [90%]

50% [90%]

Tertiary-B2B

Non-food goods sold via e-commerce using packaging for transport and delivery, to be sold in reusable packaging

10% [50%]

20% [80%]

Tertiary-B2B

Pallet wrappings and straps for stabilization and protection of goods during transport, to be sold in reusable packaging

10% [30%]

20% [75%]

Tertiary-B2B

Grouped packaging boxes used for wholesale (excluding cardboard) e.g., pack of larger quantities of packaging units used, outside of sales packaging to group a certain number of goods to create a stock-keeping packaging unit is classified as reusable packaging within a system for re-use.

8% [25%]

15% [50%]

Secondary- B2C

Grouped packaging boxes, e.g., pack of 6 bottles of water or pack of 4 bottles/cans of beers used outside of sales packaging to group a certain number of goods to create a stock-keeping packaging unit is classified as reusable packaging within a system for re-use.

8% [25%]

15% [50%]

The concrete targets for 2030 have been set to ensure a “critical mass” for the concerned operators i.e., that there are at least some economies of scale for the additional logistical and organisational costs. On the other side, very high targets e.g., 100%, risk that businesses that only market their (premium) products in single-use packaging cannot shift to MU packaging and are kicked out of the market. The whole set of the reuse measures is designed to set feasible targets and to avoid that the transport of the emptied reusable packaging does not devour the environmental benefits, neither undermine the safety of the packaged products: For example, the harmonisation of packaging formats, exemptions (see below), the fact that for products with a significant market share of premium brands relative low percentages are proposed or the fact that there is no requirement that the reusable packaging must be returned to the initial packager (filler), should ensure feasibility and overall environmental benefits.

A coffee shop (target = 30%), for example, which sells 10000 cups of coffee for take away per year is obliged to sell and report a minimum of 3000 coffee served in MU coffee cups. In case of an assumed average number of rotations of a MU coffee cup of 15, the coffee shop would, at a MU rate of the 30%, reduce packaging by 24.8%. The modelling expects the targets to decrease packaging waste compared to the baseline by 4.9% in 2030 [13.3% in 2040]. Further, the measure will stop the downward trend in reuse and increases the share of products sold in MU packaging from 2.4% in the baseline 2030 to 5.9% [10.3% in 2040].

For the implementation, administrative burden would derive from monitoring and reporting of compliance with the targets, both for public authorities and businesses. The economic impacts are estimated for 2030 to be EUR 461 million savings in waste management costs (lower EPR fees and avoided costs of one-way DRS), EUR 15.82 billion reduction in SU production and consumption, EUR 1.62 billion savings in material costs, and capital & operating costs of EUR 1.48 billion for reuse schemes (including DRS for refillables). The increase in reusable packaging is estimated to lead to decreases in GHG emissions of 1.25 million t CO2e in 2030 [5.54 million t CO2e in 2040], in environmental externalities of EUR 427 million in 2030 [EUR 1.72 billion in 2040], and in water consumption of 69k m3 in 2030 [212k m3 in 2040]. The measure would result in a net creation of 468k FTE in 2030 (loss in SU production and new jobs in MU sector).

NGOs stressed that reuse should always be the first option, while some industry stakeholders favouring in recent years single use (especially food and beverage industry or paper packaging industry) expressed that reusable product could lead to trade-offs in terms of food safety, food security, food waste risks or environmental performance. They were not very supportive of a general reuse target but are more open to differentiated targets by sector and type of packaging, and clearly opposed to 100% targets. A majority of stakeholders argued for mandatory instead of voluntary targets to ensure security of investment, to avoid undermining the single market through heterogeneous implementation and to enable economies of scale. Opposing views on target levels were expressed from 'not ambitious enough' to 'unrealistic and unachievable'.

To mitigate the concerns raised by stakeholders and Member States, exemptions from the obligation to meet re-use and refill targets can be established for economic operator. Concretely, economic operators could be exempted from the obligation to meet the targets, if they only place packaging below a certain threshold on the market or comply with the definition of micro-company in accordance with rules set out in the Commission Recommendation 2003/361 or have a sales area below 100 m2.

As regards the distribution of impacts: With mandatory targets, there would be less divergence of activities between Member States and also between competing enterprises than under voluntary regimes. In terms of how effects on packaging manufacturers and producers of products would be distributed across the EU, those countries where a high volume of single-use packaging is manufactured, or products are sold in single-use packaging, will be more affected than those for which this is not the case. Businesses manufacturing reusable packaging and who would gain market shares may also not be evenly distributed across Europe.

Measure 10b: Definitions and mandatory requirements for reusable packaging formats set in EU legislation and standard for some formats

This measure would improve the legal definition of reusable packaging, including setting a minimum number of rotations. In addition, the Commission would launch a standardisation of some reusable packaging formats (e.g reusable food trays). The economic and social impacts would be higher than under M10a, but so would be the environmental performance. The measure would contribute to increase reuse. Expected economic impacts include increased cost for infrastructure development and replacement of the current formats, and reduction of manufacturing costs and easier deployment of reusable packaging systems.

Stakeholders agreed that the standardisation of the formats is the most contentious proposition; standards should be considered on a case-by-case basis depending on the sector and the type of reuse. In contrary, NGOs are very keen on standardisation of reusable packaging formats at EU level, as this would be the most effective way of creating a scalable model for major product groups.   

Measure 10c: Definition and mandatory standards for reuse systems, in terms of incentives, infrastructure, logistics, required reporting etc., set in legislation and standard 

This measure further clarifies the legal framework for reusable packaging focusing on establishing requirements for reuse systems, both in the legislation and via a request to CEN to standardise specific reuse systems. More concretely, the full range of reuse systems, e.g. consumer led (refill), industry led (return), B2C, B2B, would precisely addressed in the new regulation. The improved legal definitions and standards will contribute to an enhanced development of reusable packaging systems with a broader coverage and improved performance. Economic, social and environmental impacts are similar to M10a but slightly higher. Stakeholders generally support the standardisation of the legal framework of reuse systems.  

Measure 7: Phase out avoidable / unnecessary packaging

This measure would entail the gradual elimination from the EU market of several items of ‘unnecessary’ packaging. In scope are some single use transit packaging used between companies, some single-use retail packaging, notably certain plastic packaging for fruit and vegetables, and some packaging formats in the HORECA sector (single use packaging for condiments, preserves, sauces and similar, single use miniature hygiene and toiletry packaging, EPS packaging layers in retail pizza and other retail food packaging) and packaging using double walls, false bottoms and other means to create impression of a greater volume than it is. Experience with the SUPD shows that a proper implementation would require a clear description of the product scope, by issuing guidelines, which will imply some administrative burden. The measure contributes to a harmonised approach to the implementation of M2b but would require an appropriate phase out period.

The modelled impacts show an overall reduction of 4.4% in packaging waste in 2030, compared to the baseline. The administrative burden would be on Member States market surveillance authorities, with different enforcement issues on transit packaging. In addition, the list of banned items would need to be reviewed and updated, if necessary, after the implementation. The economic impacts due to avoided packaging include EUR 1.24 billion savings in EPR fees, EUR 15.4 billion loss of producer turnover, material cost savings of EUR 1.7 billion and EUR 979 million costs in reuse schemes. The environmental benefits are linked to a reduction in GHG emissions and water use. The change in 2030 relative to the baseline estimates a reduction of 2.18 million tonnes CO2e and 91k m3 of water. The monetary value of the reduction in GHG emission and air pollution is estimated to be EUR 516 million. In terms of social impacts, 490k FTE would be created. Stakeholder views on this measure were polarized, with NGOs generally in strong support, industry strongly against insisting on the need for LCA data to ensure that the changes had a positive impact on GHG emissions and did not result in increased product waste.

Measure 2b: Mandatory target of 19% reduction of packaging waste per capita in 2030 compared to the baseline+M1+M5

Member States are given a target to reduce the absolute packaging waste figure in terms of kg packaging waste per inhabitant. The reduction target of 19% compared to the 2030 baseline is equivalent to a 5% reduction from the 2018 figure, with wood, paper/board and plastic packaging having the greatest impacts. The measure is ambitious considering the steady increases till the application date (the baseline projection does not take into account the Covid pandemic, which seems to have increased waste generation) and the need for a turn-around of the trend to come to a reduction.

The measure will be supported by the EU harmonised M5 (void space), M7 (phase out of unnecessary packaging) and M8b (reuse targets), which contribute to almost 60% of the waste reduction. Concerning the complementary M10a, M10b, M10c and M19 (all supporting more reuse) and M1 (over-packaging), the Member States have leeway to identify the optimal mix of policies to meet the target reflecting their national circumstances. First of all, they might monitor to what extent economic operators undertake voluntary actions to generate less packaging waste beyond the legal requirements, e.g. further fostering reuse and refill, because it is appreciated by the consumers. In addition, the Member States can opt for actions under the scope of the ORD or other measures compliant with the internal market rules, such as mandating corporate waste management plans 53 , in order to fill the gap between the impacts of the harmonised measures and target.

The administrative burden associated with it will depend on how Member States deliver on the target. The economic impacts are estimated for 2030 to be EUR 4.2 billion savings in waste management costs, EUR 429 million avoided costs of DRS, EUR 52.2 billion loss of producer revenues, EUR 11 billion savings in material costs and EUR 4 billion costs in reuse schemes. In terms of social impacts, the jobs created in the reuse sector are overcompensated by the reduction of jobs in packaging production, resulting net in a loss of around 22 k jobs in 2030. The environmental benefits are linked to a reduction in GHG emissions in 2030 relative to the baseline estimated at 11.8 million tonnes CO2e. The monetary value of GHG emission and air pollution reduction is estimated at EUR 3.7 billion.

Packaging producers concerned by turnover losses suggested that instead of the strict reduction of packaging, voluntary measures should rather avoid waste ending up in landfill or incineration and foster recycling. There was a wide range of views on the setting of these targets, which were considered either too high or too low. On the materials included, the plastics industry asked for the target to be the same for all materials while representatives of other packaging materials (e.g. glass or paper) preferred to increase the target for materials considered more difficult to collect and recycle at the present time such as plastics. A general concern was expressed if Member States diverge in the setting of targets and/or the measures to be taken to achieve them and that an over-arching target should not only encourage the switch to lighter single-use materials.

6.1.4.    Measures on prevention and reuse in policy option 3

Measure 8c: Mandatory high level targets to increase the reuse and refill of packaging by 2030/2040 in selected sectors +M10a+M10b+M10c+M19

This measure is identical with M8b, but with higher targets for the selected packaging types (see table 3). It is expected that the targets reduce packaging waste by 7.8% in 2030 [26.4% in 2040]. Further, the measure increases the share of reusable packaging from 2.4% in the 2030 baseline to 8.6% [19.2% in 2040].

For the implementation, administrative burden would derive from monitoring and reporting the progress with respect to the targets, both for public authorities and businesses. The economic impacts are estimated for 2030 to be EUR 852 million savings in waste management costs (lower EPR fees and avoided costs of one-way DRS), EUR 24.2 billion loss of producer revenues, EUR 2.5 billion savings in material costs and capital and operating costs of EUR 2.2 billion for reuse schemes (including DRS for refillables). The increase in reusable packaging is estimated for 2030 to lead to decreases in GHG emissions of 2.67 million t CO2e [15.76 million t CO2e in 2040], in environmental externalities of EUR 704 million [EUR 3.12 billion in 2040], and in water consumption of 118k m3 [451k m3 in 2040]. The measure would result in a net creation of 629k FTE in 2030. Stakeholders´ positions were similar than concerning M8b, but in a reinforced way.

Measure 3: Banning by 2030 of heaviest packaging for selected items based on existing lighter alternatives

This measure would consist of two steps: (i) identifying, for a given kind of packaging, the lightest option available on the market, (ii) if such weight is X, banning, by 2030, any such packaging exceeding X by 20%. This measure would be targeted initially only at bottles (possibly adding jars) made of plastic and glass, as they are easy to define, relatively simple in nature, and have good weight reduction potential. The modelled impacts of this measure would lead to a reduction of 2.7% in overall waste generation in 2030. The implementation of this measure is predicted to be complicated. The measure would ensure a more harmonised approach to the implementation of M2b.

The following economic impacts have been identified: (i) Light-weighting of a current design (or selecting a lighter standard bottle) saves material costs (estimated EUR 294 million in 2030), (ii) initial investment costs are generally paid back quickly through material cost savings, (iii) if applied across the EU, there will be no disadvantage to any single EU producer as all will be treated equally, so long as imported bottles are also treated the same way and enforcement is effective, (iv) the margin (e.g. +20%) of weight allowed with respect to the lightest option gives margin to SMEs to comply, (v) waste management and EPR cost savings are estimated at EUR 81 million by 2030. The environmental benefits of this measure are predicted to be significant and predominately linked to a reduction in GHG emissions and water use. The change in 2030 relative to the baseline estimates a reduction of 766k tonnes CO2e and 39k m3 of water. The monetary value of the reduction in GHG emission and air pollution is estimated to be 104 million EUR. In terms of social impacts, a small negative impact on jobs is expected (-3,700 in 2030), only affecting raw material suppliers in the EU. Stakeholders are generally very concerned about the availability of the data required for this measure at the EU-level and the need to keep that data up to date. Many stakeholders preferred to set a best-in-class threshold only as a voluntary approach.

Measure 2c: Mandatory target of 23% reduction of packaging waste per capita in 2030 compared to the baseline +M1+M5+M7

The measure is similar to M2b, but with a higher target. In terms of effectiveness, it would reduce packaging waste by 23% in 2030 compared to the baseline, which is equivalent to a reduction of 10% compared to the waste generated in 2018. As regards implementation and administrative burden, see M2b, but the implementation by the Member States would become even harder considering the increases till the application date of the new law and the sharper reduction within the few years between the application date and 2030.

Due to the additional M3 (bans of heaviest packaging items) and the higher reuse targets in M8c, the EU harmonised measures contribute to more than 70% to the waste reduction, leaving still about 30% to the Member States to develop internal market compliant national measures to meet the target.

The economic impacts modelled entail EUR 4.9 billion savings in waste management costs, EUR 160 million avoided costs of DRS, EUR 59.9 billion loss of producer revenues, EUR 12.9 billion savings in material costs and EUR 4.8 billion costs in reuse schemes. The environmental impact includes an estimated decrease in 2030 relative to the baseline of 14.6 million tonnes of CO2e and monetised reduction of GHG emission and air pollution of EUR 4.9 billion. A net loss of around 18k jobs is modelled. Stakeholder opinions were similar but fortified to M2b and concerned packaging industry was strongly opposed to the ban of heaviest packaging.

6.2.    Recyclability and compostability 

The detailed analysis of the measures on recyclability is in Annex 9.3 and on compostability in Annex 9.4.

6.2.1.    Measures on recyclability and compostability in policy option 1

Measure 21a: All packaging shall be reusable or recyclable by 2030- clarification of Essential Requirements and recyclability definition

M21a will be the basis for clearer, better enforceable Essential Requirements on packaging, clearly prioritising recycling over recovery. It will make clear that packaging cannot be designed for energy recovery as it will remove the essential requirement on energy recovery and update the essential requirement on material recycling by requiring that not only a percentage of packaging item must be recyclable.

The CBA model estimates EUR 237 million of additional costs relative to the baseline 2030, mainly born by those producers of packaging types that do not meet the new requirements. The reduction in the quantity of packaging waste material sent to incineration could generate savings of 812k tonnes of CO2e, of 29k m3 of water use and EUR 179 million less of externalities. 3,800 jobs would be created.

The update of the essential requirement to bring coherence across Member States is widely supported by stakeholders, apart from a debate on the scope of what is included in recycling (i.e. composting). The removal of 'energy recovery' from the essential requirement was broadly supported, although the wood sector indicated that the best end-of-life for wood might be energy recovery.

Measure 21b: All reusable packaging must be recyclable as of 2030

This measure requires that all reusable packaging must also be recyclable by 2030. The effectiveness and feasibility will be strictly linked to the level of stringency of the minimum reusability criteria (Measure 10) and recyclability assessment procedure and criteria as defined in M22b. The measure complements M21a and will require an extra effort by the operators in the reuse sectors.

The CBA model estimated that the measure will increase the recycling rates by maximum 1.7%. The CBA model estimates a net increase in production costs for packaging producers of EUR 107 million. Furthermore, the shift from incineration and landfill to recycling of some packaging materials will increase waste management costs by EUR 39 million. Savings of 550k t of CO2e, 18k m3 of water and EUR 163 million of externalities can be expected. 2k additional jobs are created in packaging production and waste management.

Some stakeholders argued that non-recyclable reusable packaging should be allowed until 2035, subject to proven reuse and significantly better environmental parameters than single-use packaging. On the other hand, mainly NGOs argued that exemptions should not be allowed, as they risk being abused by the market.

Measure 22a: Qualitative definition of recyclable packaging

The Commission would define recyclable packaging as this much needed definition is currently non-existent. The impact of a qualitative definition alone on the recycling rates is not estimated to be significant. However, for some packaging types 54 recycling rates are expected to increase by 3-5%.

If the measure is applied alone, it could be hampered by different interpretations between Member States, which could also increase the administrative burden for producers. The maximum additional cost of packaging producers is EUR 260 million and EUR 91 million for the recycling industry in 2030. Savings of 1.2 million tonnes of CO2e, 44k m3 of water use, EUR 270 million of externalities and a maximum increase in jobs of 5,700 are estimated relative to the baseline in 2030.

The qualitative definition is widely supported and preferred over the quantitative definition in M22c. On the question whether key terms should be defined in the basic or in an implementing act, a majority of stakeholders called for definitions and key criteria to be clearly set out in the body of the act, while expressing concern about leaving the details to implementing acts and other secondary legislation. Further, representatives of the recycling sector argued for technological neutrality concerning chemical recycling to allow this type of recycling to coexist next to mechanical recycling. Finally, on the relevance of existing definitions of recyclability e.g. in EN13430, a majority of stakeholders argued that these definitions were obsolete.

Measure 28: Updates of Essential Requirements and EN 13432, clarifying biodegradability and compostability concepts

The updating of the Essential Requirements and EN 13432 will ensure better management of compostable packaging. To that end, the measure would improve the definition of compostable packaging and update the standard to ensure that real life conditions of composting are considered. This will lead to reduced cross-contamination of both waste streams.

M28 is feasible. There are too many uncertainties regarding the development of bio-waste treatment industry and the compostable polymers market to be able to estimate the impacts of avoided contamination. Slightly higher organic recycling rates and improvements in quality of the compost can be expected.

Measure 29a: Allowing both compostable and/or conventional plastics for selected packaging types

There are areas where the use of compostable plastic is beneficial, due to increased collection of organic waste and its diversion from residual waste or reduction in plastic contamination of compost. Therefore, a scoping exercise was undertaken to select plastic packaging, for which compostable materials are favourable: Lightweight plastic carrier bags, tea bags and coffee pads, fruit & vegetable labels (stickers), fast food trays that are unsuitable for re-use, films for perishable, trays for fruit & vegetables. In this measure, both compostable and/or conventional plastics are allowed to produce these packaging types.

Economic and environmental impacts would be moderate as it is assumed that some transition to compostable items is already occurring in the baseline scenario, also the social impact would be negligible.

6.2.2.    Measures on recyclability and compostability in policy option 2 

Measure 22b: Definition of recyclable packaging based on design for recycling (DfR) criteria complemented by the recyclability assessment procedure and a negative list of non-recyclable packaging characteristics +M21a, M21b, M22a

This measure is complementary to the qualitative definition of recyclable packaging (M22a) and is based on the mandatory use of design for recycling (DfR) criteria and two-step recyclability assessments to determine whether packaging is recyclable. The qualitative definition (M22a) would be used as a set of guiding principles to support the development of mandatory DfR assessment methodology. While the measure is expected to be demanding to implement, it should be highly effective in raising recycling rates and improving the quality of recycled material. Linking the measure to the modulation of EPR fees would reinforce its effectiveness. The DfR approach will be flanked by a negative list of packaging characteristics, which impede or hinder recycling, which will have the effect of reversing the burden of proof and requiring packaging producers of such packaging to prove recyclability via third party certification system.

The maximum potential increase in the recycling rate is estimated to be between 11-20% for packaging types that are more challenging to recycle while for overall packaging recycling rates it will correspond to an increase of ~2% relative to the baseline in 2030.

Administrative burden of this measures is expected to be significant. The Commission will need to manage the processes of establishing DfR criteria for 29 packaging categories in delegated acts and set a system for recyclability assessment including criteria for accreditation of certifying bodies. The costs for the preparatory work to establish the DfR criteria are established to be between EUR 1.8 and 2.6 million per year over 10 years. Packaging producers will have administrative burden associated with undertaking the two-stage assessment. This has been estimated at annual costs of EUR 385 million for first stage (self-assessment) and annual costs of EUR 750 million for the second stage (third-party assessment) if this takes place every 10 years. The economic impact will lead to EUR 868 million of additional production costs and EUR 172 million of additional costs in waste management, relative to the baseline in 2030. These costs are likely to be relatively low compared to an unregulated scenario. In terms of environmental benefit, savings equal to 4.2 million tonnes of CO2e, 150k m3 of water use, EUR 930 million reduced externalities of GHG and air quality. The measure will generate ~ 19k additional FTEs.

Overall, there is a broad consensus on the need for harmonised DfR criteria to have a uniform packaging classification on the internal market. Requests from industry stakeholders to ensure the recyclability assessment not to be too onerous have been addressed by creating the two-step procedure, where a self-assessment (first step) exempts the majority of the packaging types from a mandatory third party certification.

Measure 23: Harmonisation of EPR Fee Modulation Criteria

The measure envisages harmonisation of EPR fee modulation criteria. The setting of the actual fees and their magnitude would still be left to PROs and/or Member States. The measure would make the attainment of the recycling targets in the baseline more efficient and cost effective, as it will act as price driven incentive for improved packaging design; in this sense, the measure complements and strengthens the effect of M22b. At the same time, the use of standardised packaging formats for reuse could lead to lower EPR fees for reusable packaging. Implementation of this measure is simple as PROs already collect much of the data required to operationalise the measure and would play a key role in monitoring. As fee modulation is already required by PPWD, the additional administrative burden is expected to be small.

The economic impacts of this measure could not be quantified but largely affect packaging producers: harmonised fee modulation criteria will lead to a better application of the “polluter pays principle”, especially for the producers of the least recyclable forms of packaging. The environmental benefits would be evident due to reduced negative impacts of packaging waste management. The model estimates a small job creation in recycling industry of 5,700 FTEs by 2030. Stakeholders welcomed a coordinated approach to EPR fee modulation.

Measure 29d: Mandatory compostability for certain out of the selected plastics packaging types and for the remaining ones compostable or conventional plastics possible +M28

Under this measure, lightweight plastic carrier bags, tea bags (and the similar coffee pods or bags) and labels sticking on fruit & vegetable must be produced from compostable plastic polymers. The other products selected in M29 would be allowed to be made from compostable polymers (hybrid status as in M29a). For the first group of products, consumer confusion and contamination issues arising in the bio-waste treatment plants and plastic recycling plants is reduced. For the other products listed in M29a, the consumer confusion remains high, as both compostable and conventional plastic polymers are allowed.

Additional investments to shift to more compostable plastics will be limited, as also in the baseline these polymers are soaring. The economic impacts are reduced costs in waste management (less incineration and landfill) and food waste contamination removal in the order of EUR 200 million in 2030, but the additional costs for more compostable plastics (~EUR 380 million) lead to cost a cost increase of app. EUR 180 million. The model estimated savings of 1.1 million tonnes of CO2e and EUR 262 millions of externalities. Also, the environmental performance would significantly improve, if the hybrid status is completely phased out, because the plastic recycling will have better parameters in the future. The social impact is negligible.

6.2.3.    Measures on recyclability and compostability in policy option 3

Measure 22c: Quantitative definition of recyclable packaging +M21a, M21b, M22a, M23

A quantitative definition of recyclable packaging based on actual recycling rates within a packaging category or for a specific packaging item would be established. This measure is an alternative to M22b. Packaging item would be considered recyclable, if it is recycled (as a packaging format or a category of packaging) beyond a certain threshold. The feasibility would depend on the roll-out of new digital technologies that would enable the calculation of recycling rates for specific packaging items/categories. As such technologies are unlikely to be EU-wide in place by 2030, this measure would only be effective by 2040; the recycling rates for the concerned packaging would increase by 15-31% compared to the baseline, which corresponds to an overall increase of recycling rates by 2-3% in 2040. Significant additional administrative burdens are required to implement the new data systems and reporting process. These additional costs for packaging production are estimated to be EUR 1.6 billion and EUR 49 million for sorting and recycling, compared to the 2040 baseline. Savings by 2040 of 8.3 million tonnes of CO2e, 287k m3 of water use and EUR 2.5 billion of externalities are estimated. Shifting from incineration and landfill towards recycling would generate 36k FTEs.

Most stakeholders support the quantitative definition of recyclable packaging but are aware about the challenges of its implementation. In contrast to the qualitative definition in M22a, and although it may have generated interest, there was a broad consensus that M22c is not feasible before 2040 and neither desirable, as it would be difficult to implement considering that a high level of granularity (i.e. level of detail that should be considered by categories/types of packaging materials) would be required. Further, the current EU recycling targets are material specific and not product specific. One NGO suggested to launch a data collection system via the PROs now and based on this establish targets at a later stage.

Measure 29b: Mandatory compostability for all selected plastics packaging types packaging +M28

This measure would require that all products identified in M29 are made from compostable plastics. Consumer confusion - thus also the issue of cross contamination - is eliminated. However, the measure would imply further complexity for the packaging industry compared to M29d in terms of investments in research and development. Strong opposition from the waste management sector and Member States can be expected, as the compostability at local level of several out of the newly mandatory compostables is severely challenged. As regards economic impacts, the costs of switching to compostable polymers primarily result in higher material costs which exceed savings in waste management by EUR 170 million. The model estimated savings of 2.1 million tonnes of CO2e and EUR 518 million of externalities. Some additional 28k FTE are created.

6.3.    Recycled Content of plastic packaging

The detailed analysis of the measures in this intervention area can be found in Annex 9.5.

6.3.1.    Measures on recycled content of plastic packaging in policy option 1

Measure 37: Definition of Recycled Content and measurement method

This measure introduces provisions to establish a harmonised methodology for the calculation, reporting and verification of recycled content levels in packaging, as well as clarifying the definition of the terms recycled content. The elaboration of the respective Implementing Act could revert on the respective act for the SUPD.

The economic, social and environmental impacts of this measure in isolation are negligible, but it should be seen as a crucial basis for M34 and M35, as strongly supported by stakeholders. The inclusion of chemical recycling was subject of intense debate, especially the concrete allocation in a mass balance approach.

6.3.2.    Measures on recycled content of plastic packaging in policy option 2

Measure 35em: Broad targets for plastic packaging based on contact-sensitivity for 2030 and 2040 +M37

This measure would set mandatory targets for post-consumer recycled content in plastic packaging from the years 2030 and 2040, with two variants in terms of ambition. 

·The targets would be applied as a requirement on each item of obligated packaging, as opposed to an average to be met across a group of packaging items, based on the methodology for their quantification set out in M37 and certified for the respective packing item

·The basis for the targets would be packaging placed on the EU market, such that they would be implemented by operators monitored and enforced by the Member States. 

These targets are aimed at three groups: contact and non-contact sensitive and beverage bottles (see Table 4).

Table 4 Measure 35e Post-consumer Recycled Content Targets 

Product Group 

2030 

2040 

M35em  

M35eh  

Contact Sensitive 

25% 

30% 

50% 

Non-Contact Sensitive 

35% 

45% 

65% 

Beverage Bottles 

30% (set in SUPD) 

50% 

65% 

Total 

~30% 

~40% 

~60% 

Apart from a precondition to have M37, a key aspect in terms of implementation will be to determine a mass balance approach as a key enabler of chemical recycling, in order to make the needed recyclates available. Due to the specific challenges for ‘contact sensitive’ plastic packaging, the economic impacts are likely to be significantly higher than for the non-contact sensitive, i.e. those recyclate markets will be tighter. As well as some administrative burden for the Commission and Member States, the estimated certification costs for the industry are divided into One-off costs around EUR 30 million and EUR 120 million recurring costs.

At the beginning of 2022 recycled PET became more expensive than fossil based PET (1000-1500€/tonne). If a 100 €/t price differential between rPET and virgin resin were to be maintained across the plastics packaging sector this would be an increase in costs to the industry of EUR 270 million annually for the medium ambition 2030 target. A price differential between recycled PET and virgin resin of 100 €/tonne means an increase of the material costs for a 13g PET beverage bottle produced from 50% recycled PET of 0.00065€. The price differential will increase with higher targets, as the recyclate markets will be tighter. Further, high recyclate prices exert a pull to have higher plastics recycling rates.

Carrying out recycling and incorporating recycled content within the EU reduces the effect of the uncertainty of oil supply associated with geopolitical issues. The medium ambition 2030 target would therefore reduce fossil fuel requirements of the EU by 3.1 million tonnes per year. The increase in plastics recycling related jobs in the EU is estimated to be 26k FTE (2030). The model estimated savings of 6.5 billion tonnes of CO2e and EUR 710 million of externalities compared to the 2030 baseline.

There is big support from all sides to foster closed loop recycling via recycled content targets for plastic packaging. However, there are concerns from certain industries, e.g. food and pharma, about high costs for or unavailability of recyclates (see section 2.4.3 of Annex 9.5). Thus, several stakeholders expressed the need for the deployment of new recycling technologies, such as chemical recycling, exemptions from the targets for certain plastic packaging, measures to restrict the losses of recyclates to other sectors and for the targets to be re-evaluated in ~5 years to avoid unnecessary market prohibitions if the material is not available. Another exemption should focus on SMEs: a de-minimis threshold of 100 tonnes plastic production p.a. from the requirement to incorporate recycled content affects ~ 2000 plastic packaging convertors (10%); it would result in reducing the recycled content in 2030 by ~ 200k t i.e., ~ 4% reduction in the total mass of recycled content and ~1 percentage point reduction in the overall average plastic packaging recycled content. Further, industry requested to ensure well-functioning markets for secondary raw materials and the creation of efficient infrastructure in the waste value chain. The chemical recycling industry has stressed the importance of this type of recycling to increase recycled content especially in food packaging. Stakeholders representing plastics argued that recycled content targets should also be set in other material categories to avoid discrimination of plastics, while the representative of glass, metal and paper/cardboard stressed that for these materials there are already high shares of closed loop recycling without recycled content targets.

6.3.3.    Measures on recycled content in policy option 3

Measure 35eh: Higher ambition, broad targets for recycled content in plastic packaging based on contact-sensitivity for 2030 and 2040 +M37

This measure requires higher recycling rates of the plastic waste than 35em and thus the mass flow is tighter, impacting the feasibility. Admin burden for the Commission and Member States, and certification costs for the industry are estimated equal than in M35em. As the market are tighter, the prices for recyclates tend to be higher than in 35em, thus the additional production costs would increase more than EUR 500 million. The reduction in fossil fuel requirements of the EU would be 4.5 million tonnes per year. The model estimated savings of 12 million tonnes of CO2e, 930k m3 of water use and EUR 1.35 billion of externalities.

Stakeholder opinions were similar to M35em, but intensified, as certain recyclate markets become very tight and the call for exemptions thus stronger.

6.4.    Enabling measures    

The detailed analysis of the measures about hazardous substances can be found in Annex 9.6, on DRS and waste collection in Annex 9.7, on labelling in Annex 9.8, on GPP in Annex 9.9 and Data Reporting, including on PCBs, and Enforcement in Annex 9.10.

6.4.1.     Enabling measures in policy option 1

Mx: Update of current material-based labelling: Removal of alphanumeric codes for waste sorters

This measure would remove the obligation for the alphanumeric labelling of the packaging materials, as there is no evidence alphanumeric coding has ever been used in any meaningful way by consumers, neither is it used by the waste sorters. New packaging labelling requirements to facilitate smarter sorting in the waste management sectorn would be mandated. Apart from the already widely applied optical sorting (NIR), digital watermarking 55 and serialisation 56 have demonstrated to be technically viable labelling technologies, but they are not yet rolled out. Also integration of information into a Digital Product Passport 57 could be an option.

Removing the alphanumeric codes will not adversely affect consumer behaviour, but to minimise disruption, it should be aligned with the introduction of M27c-y on consumer-facing sorting labelling. Economic, environmental and social impacts are marginal.

There was broad support for harmonising labelling requirements and consensus that the alphanumeric coding does not support consumer sorting. Stakeholders of industry and brands stressed that space on labels is limited and therefore the necessity of each labelling particular should be substantiated. There was strong support for digitisation of information, a language-neutral system (logos, pictograms or codes) and a consumer testing phase. NGOs stressed the need to accompany any new labelling requirement with dedicated communication to ensure that it is accepted and drives the intended behaviour. The industry representing biodegradability would like specific information on biodegradable packaging, but this was opposed by all other stakeholders.

Measure 31: Update of ‘hazardousness’ definition

This measure is included in Option 1 and it aims at: a) reviewing the objectives of the packaging legislation by including the protection of human health, b) including the whole life-cycle of packaging, when establishing the requirements on the content of hazardous substances in packaging and c) updating the Essential Requirements by replacing “noxious and other hazardous substances and materials” with “substances of concern” as described in the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability and defined in the Commission proposal for the Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation.

This measure is considered effective as it will significantly reduce confusion about the substances in scope of this obligation. Manufacturers may need to engage in new communication with their suppliers, to update information based on the more precise definition of substances covered (“substances of concern”), which will require some additional administrative burden. In terms of economic impact, adaptation costs may be needed for changing the formulation of packaging materials or switching packaging formats. However, the extent of the economic impact cannot be determined given the variety of packaging in the scope and the current lack of a specific mapping of relevant substances of concern in packaging and the frequency and extent of their use. This measure will achieve a positive social impact due to the improved protection of human health. Furthermore, the protection of the environment will be improved thanks to the reduction or elimination of substances of concern in packaging, thereby also limiting potential emissions during the waste phase. In general, stakeholders indicated that hazardous substances in packaging should be addressed via REACH, the EU Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability and the Food Contact Material regulations.

Measure 32a: Expanding the information on hazardous substances

This measure aims at collecting, identifying and prioritising relevant substances of concern in packaging for which potential limitations or restrictions could be envisaged. This measure may not be effective to gain a comprehensive overview of all the hazardous substances potentially contained in packaging, but will draw on available information and registers covering substances of concern to enable an initial prioritisation for swift further restriction action, as appropriate.

No major difficulties are expected in its implementation given it relies upon existing information on packaging. The administrative burden for suppliers of packaging would remain unchanged. Only a small increase in administrative burden would be expected to occur for the European Commission, the European Chemicals Agency and the national administrations, which would translate in the effort to run dedicated data-mining in existing databases and to tender and run support studies for the identification and prioritisation of substances in packaging. The economic impact associated with the execution of this measure is modest and would rely on the public administrations, responsible for running and paying for the data-mining and support studies described above. No significant social and environmental impacts are envisaged from this measure given it only entails desk work information gathering and analysis. The majority of stakeholders were in favour of this measure.

6.4.2.    Enabling measures in policy option 2

Measure A&B: Mandatory DRS and minimum requirements for all DRS

DRS systems ensure high recovery and purity rates, which are preconditions for high quality recycling. Therefore, this measure requires Member States to set up DRS for plastic bottles and metal cans mandatorily, supplemented by DRS for other beverage containers on a voluntary basis and establishment of minimum requirements for all DRS; the latter measures are supportive, subsidiary elements for the Member States. The measure will facilitate the scale-up of DRS, while improving consumer and economic operators’ uptake. It would contribute to M35em and m35eh by allowing for collection of more and purer waste materials.

The implementation timeline (3 Phases: 4-9 months preparation, 14-24 months implementation, 12 month “go-live” and support) would start in 2027 to reach 90% collections by 2030. The main administrative costs are expected for producers related to the design and implementation of the DRSs. The measure would amount to annualised cost of EUR 980 million, comprising of cost of EUR 1.04 billion in producer fees for beverage containers and savings of EUR 55 million EPR fees. 15k new FTEs relative to the baseline are estimated for 2030. The distributional effects, cost transfers and the Member States, which would have to introduce a DRS (some Member States have already introduced DRS to meet the SUPD targets) are detailed in Annex 9.7.

There was broad support (especially from NGO and soft drink industry) for the extension of DRS and EU wide minimum requirements. While most stakeholders supported the expansion of DRS for certain packaging, about half also supported a possibility of national exemption from a mandatory DRS for specific beverage container, if the country is already capturing a high rate of targeted containers through alternative means. The environmental NGOs pointed out that if refillable packaging were to be included in a mandatory DRS, it makes sense for refillables to have a lower deposit than one-way packaging, to encourage reuse. Member States favoured the further harmonisation and the development of harmonised minimum DRS requirements.

Measure 27c-y: Harmonised labelling of products and waste receptacles to facilitate consumers´ sorting (advanced Nordic pictograms system) +Mx

The new uniform labelling systems avoid consumer confusion as to where to dispose of their waste packaging and will allow for harmonisation of collection systems across the Member States. They are implemented in conjunction with consumer awareness campaigns. The inspiration is taken from the pictogram system, which is already being very successfully implemented in Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway and Baltic countries. Material composition (rather than “recyclability”) will be labelled. The measure will prevent Member States from mandating their own consumer-facing packaging sorting instructions or labelling systems, thus preserve the integrity of the single market, and be combined with measure x (Removal of alphanumeric codes, “One in One out”). The approved symbols will be an on-pack requirement, thus visible as a direct prompt to the consumer at point of disposal. It will also require labelling waste collection containers with the same symbols as packaging, in order to allow consumers a straightforward identification of the correct waste container for the corresponding packaging and an overall improvement to separate waste collection.

Overall, 15 Member States will have to enforce the EU harmonised labels with pictograms on waste receptacles and packaging products for the first time, the remaining simply having to adapt their systems during the phase in period. These Member States will reap the largest share of the waste management efficiency gains (EU total: material capture rates +2%; purity of collected waste +12%). There will be one-off costs to the Commission of EUR 0.8 million to develop (design, testing, rollout of the EU labels) and establish in an implementing act the new labelling system, and EUR 15 million each year for waste collectors to conduct annual inspections to ensure that the new EU labels are in use.

The estimated total (cumulative) cost to businesses, citizens and public administrations of implementing the new EU harmonised labelling system for the labelling of the receptacles is estimated at around EUR 330 million over the implementation period (3 or 4 years). In contrast, the model estimated cost savings in the EU waste management sector of EUR 140 million due to reduced fees for waste incineration and the efficiency gains in the waste treatment value chain. Thus, there are aggregated additional costs for the labelling of waste receptacles -including in the waste management sector- of EUR 210 million over the phase in period.

The cost for redesign of impacted packaging labels of products for the economic operators would be EUR 18.1 billion, spread over the implementation period of three years (EUR 6 billion per year for three years). These costs could be significantly reduced by allowing four years for transition (cost falls to EUR 10.3 billion in total, equivalent to EUR 2.6 billion per year for four years). All the estimated costs are administrative costs and refer to the implementation of the labelling per single keeping unit (SKU) and on waste receptacles, external development and testing costs, designing of communication information and annual inspection costs to ensure that the new EU labels are in use. The measure will contribute to environmental benefits through clearer information on the material composition of packaging, particularly when aligned with other measures to improve labelling consistency and clarity. It will lead to improved sorting, thus less contamination of recycling streams and more material being recycled, and this with higher quality. Waste management and consumer stakeholders strongly called for better, harmonised and more comprehensive sorting instructions to consumers, and this under consideration of local collection and sorting infrastructure differing across the EU.

Measure k: Restrictions on use of confusing labels

This measure will restrict the ways in which information on subjects covered by the labelling measures under the revised packaging legislation is communicated and prevent Member States and EPRs from mandating their unique national labelling requirements on these subjects. The measure will preserve the integrity of the single market and further reduce consumer confusion as to correct disposal of waste packaging and some of packaging characteristics. If it is introduced alongside other labelling measures, it will reinforce their impacts and the additional costs of this measure alone would be minimal, with all packaging being redesigned over the course of the transition period for M27c-y in any case. Enforcement costs for Member States would be minimally affected, in line with M27c-y. Over time, removal of the diverging national labelling systems might lead to savings of EUR18 billion, thus outweighing the cost estimate for M27c-y. This is confirmed by all stakeholders.

Measure 38-j: Labelling criteria for Recycled Content

This measure will prevent Member States from setting up their unique national labelling requirements on how recycled content in packaging, and so preserve the integrity of the single market. Such standardised information may additionally impact consumer purchasing preferences and encourage competition between economic operators, if it is considered that demonstrating “recycled content” provides them with a marketing or reputational advantage. The respective implementing act ensures that the claims are not misused.

If this measure is introduced alongside other labelling measures, its additional costs alone would be minimal, with all packaging being redesigned over the course of the transition period for M27c-y in any case. Most packaging industry stakeholders were more concerned about divergent labelling and NGOs criticised misleading claims on recycled content in a non-EU harmonised system (“green washing”).

Measure 12-u: Harmonised labelling for reusable packaging

This measure will introduce a mandatory symbol for reusable packaging. The measure will overcome the current fragmentation in reuse labelling schemes at national level and therefore preserving the integrity of the single market by preventing divergence in mandatory labelling requirements. Harmonising the reuse labelling may additionally encourage consumer preferences for reuse and support more packaging reuse. This measure and its impacts are closely linked with M27c-y on labelling criteria to facilitate consumers´ sorting and M38-j labelling on criteria for recycled content and could be part of the future implementing act on labelling.

Significant administrative burden for the Commission occurs for the development of reusability standards and designing the EU symbol. To the extent that the symbol facilitates more reuse– and thus the efficiency and effectiveness of reuse systems overall – it is expected that the measure would have environmental benefits. Stakeholders were more concerned about preventing the further multiplication of divergent national requirements on reuse labelling than for establishing an EU label. Views also diverged on the value for the consumer of additional performance information (such as the number of reuses an item can serve).

Measure 32b: Notification of substances of concern in packaging +M31

Under this measure, which is an alternative to M32a, in addition to the use of existing information described under 32a, a new legal obligation would be introduced by which all substances of concern used in packaging would have to be notified by the supplier placing the packaging and packaging materials on the EU market. The notification could be done through:

1.a centralised European Database, relying on an expanded IT infrastructure of the current SCIP database.

2.EPR schemes: Dedicated IT infrastructure needed to support notification, data storage and management.

3.Integration into the information contained in a Digital Product Passport.

This measure has a broader scope than M32a in terms of the amount of substances covered. However, only a subset of substances classified as hazardous substances in Annex VI of the CLP regulation meet the criteria to be considered “substances of concern”. This is however a large set of substances, prioritised under the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability. The ease of implementation depends on the notification scheme chosen. The first one will require substantial efforts in the development of the IT infrastructure, the second will be be even greater if EPR systems have to be created ex-novo. The third one relies on a system that is going to be developed under ESPR, however, given the developments pending in this area, it is not possible at this stage to assess the impacts of relying on such a system. Additional administrative burden will be imposed on suppliers of packaging due to the increased scope of substances to be reported. Significant burdens can also be envisaged for public administrations, particularly the European Commission and ECHA for the coordination and IT development. The economic impact will depend on the choice of the system but is expected to be several million Euros over a few years for the development and adaptation of the IT system and a permanent increase in the fixed maintenance and operational costs of the database. No significant social and environmental impacts are expected.

A study on determining the restrictions on substances of concern in packaging will be carried out by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), which has the needed experience to carry out these assessments. This will cost around 817 ooo EUR (consisting of 400 000 outsourcing the study to ECHA and some 175 000 staf costs for 3 years).

Measure 33a: Restrictions of substances under REACH

This measure would ensure that there is a reliable and well tested process for assessing the risks posed by substances of concern in packaging and to, as appropriate, effectively limit their use and presence. This would increase the uptake and confidence in secondary raw materials obtained from packaging. The measure would be complemented by M31 (updated definition of hazardous substances in packaging and M32a (more information on the presence of substances of concern in packaging).

Considering economic impacts, restrictions on substances of concern in packaging may require additional efforts for packaging manufacturers in the form of additional communication with suppliers regarding substances in packaging materials or even adaptation costs by changing the formulation or changing the packaging formats. The magnitude of these costs is unknown due to the lack of data. A beneficial social impact is expected through the improvement of human health through a more limited use of substances of concern in packaging, but it is difficult to quantify as it will be largely dependent on the precise substances restricted and their precise patterns of use. Positive environmental impacts are also expected though difficult to quantify at present due to the lack of available data. Several stakeholders believe that the PPWD is not the appropriate instrument for restriction and therefore support this measure where such restrictions would be left to REACH (and as applicable, to the FCM Regulation).

Measure 40b: Mandatory minimum GPP criteria for packaging of priority products and services

This measure will set out mandatory minimum Green Public Procurement compliance criteria for packaging of products and services with high efficiency. An initial selection based on the Common Procurement Vocabulary identified 13 product groups, considering factors such as the amount of packaging and the potential impacts. The criteria would be applied by authorities for contracts above a certain financial threshold. Applicants for public sector contracts are required to provide information related to the packaging criteria.

The measure is expected to be effective in increasing the demand for lower environmental impact packaging in products and services. The uptake of the mandatory and efficient GPP criteria will be wider and consistent across Member States. The measure would support the attainment of objectives under other policy areas, such as recycled content, recyclability, packaging minimisation and reuse. In terms of ease of implementation and administrative burden, an expert group would identify, based on best practices, high potential impact products and services, as well as related packaging-specific criteria. Subsequently, the criteria will be set out in an implementing act. Member states will need to set up monitoring, reporting and enforcing systems. Public bodies will be required to ensure that the tendering processes include the relevant GPP criteria, and that staff is trained on mainstreaming, assessment and verification of those criteria.

The overall economic, environmental and social impacts could not be quantified since they depend on the choice of the criteria and de-minimis threshold. Evidently, the requirement for the applicants to prove compliance with the packaging criteria implies some administrative burden. Furthermore, it is predicted that this measure will have a positive environmental impact due to the prevention and reduction of packaging waste. The social impact is expected to be minimal. Stakeholders were mostly positive about this measure and were in favour of mandatory minimum packaging criteria for GPP. However, several stakeholders pointed out that there was a need for additional considerations, namely (i) minimum requirements should not restrict the ability of contracting authorities to set more ambitious sustainability requirements, (ii) mandatory requirements should be aligned with established packaging criteria, and (iii) there should be pre-defined procedures to enable exemptions in exceptional circumstances.

Measure 42b: Harmonization of EPR reporting system for packaging producer above a threshold

The economic impacts of the measure are attributed to the increased data processing needs associated with harmonised and more detailed EPR data. The majority of packaging producers would be required to provide more detailed product data to the relevant EPR systems. It is recommended to introduce a de minimis threshold for producers below a certain size to limit the additional reporting requirements faced by small producers. The economic impact on EPR systems could be equivalent to 0-1 FTE during the set-up and 0-0.5 FTE once the system is operational (per PRO). It is unlikely that national governments would experience a significant economic impact.This measure is not expected to have a significant environmental impact.

Some stakeholders observed that EPR systems are becoming increasingly divergent from each other. They also drew attention to the fact that the granularity of the data required is linked to the administrative burden and therefore harmonisation will be crucial to limit additional efforts and haveshowed almost unanimous support for this measure on the condition that it does notdisproportionately increase the administrative burden. Several participants specifically pointed out that harmonisation not only of what is reported, but also of the timing of reporting, would facilitate the planning and scheduling of administrative tasks.

Measure PCB: Reporting obligation on PCBs

In 2018, the PPWD introduced provisions aiming to reduce consumption of LPCBs (bags with a wall thickness of 0<50 micron) in order to combat littering and promote waste prevention. In concrete, the PPWD requires Member States to report annual consumption data on all LPCBs, while it is voluntary for VLPCBs (bags with a wall thickness of 0<15 micron), LPCBs of 15<50 micron and PCBs ≥50 micron is.

An evaluation of the measures in the PPWD as regards PCBs unveiled a lack of data on consumption of VLPCBs and PCBs ≥50 micron in order to assess, if the consumption of these bags has increased as a substitution effect to reductions of LPCBs of 15<50 micron. Further, there is evidence that PCBs ≥100 microns are intended to have a long lifetime, are reused many times and have only a small littering potential. The measure therefore extends the current reporting requirements on Member States to include

·reporting of PCBs 50<100 micron mandatorily and PCBs ≥100 microns voluntarily.

·mandatory disaggregation of the LPCBs data in <15 micron (VLPCBs) and 15<50 micron.

The study above underpins that closing these data gaps would efficiently ensure that the objectives in the PPWD are not undermined. Implementation should not lead to problems as reporting regimes exist already for LPCBs and many Member States already collects the data which will become mandatory on a voluntary basis. There is a small one-off and annual additional administrative burden on public authorities in the 14 Member States, where PCBs ≥50 microns are not yet reported. Further, 5 Member States would have similar additional administrative burden for the mandatory disaggregation of the LPCBs data in <15 micron (VLPCBs) and 15<50 micron (Member States concerned are listed in Annex 9.10).

6.4.3.    Enabling measures in policy option 3

This option includes M27c-y, Mx, M12-u, M38-j, Mk, M31, M42b, MPCB, plus:

Measure C: Prioritized use of recycled packaging from DRS

This measure will, via an addition to the minimum requirements of DRS, give priority access to recyclates from packaging collected through mandatory DRS to each beverage container producer that is registered in the respective DRS and places such deposit containers on the market. The measure is solely focussing on PET recycling, even though it could also cover beverage cans or glass bottles, in case they were under a DRS. It is effectively facilitating and assuring PET bottle producers meeting EU recycled content targets (bottle-to-bottle recycling). However, in case of aluminium cans there is already a very high closed loop recycling without regulating recyclate market. Further, glass bottle producers already experience that recycled glass commands a premium price, meaning bottle-to-bottle demand is supported without priority access. The measure may cause tensions related to the change in market conditions for many operators. It would have a price curbing effect for rPET, at least on the significant, prioritised market share; thus, the incentive for the waste value chain to closed-loop recycle PET is reduced. The measure will reallocate costs and benefits across economic actors: Drinks producers filling PET bottles will benefit from an ability to obtain grade rPET food more easily, and may pay a lower price due to the priority access. Other food or non-food packaging producers as well as other users of recycled plastic (e.g. textiles) will find access to food grade rPET harder. The EPR fees would decrease less, as the PET recyclers would have to sell the rPET at lower prices to the priviledged PET bottle producers. There are no significant social impacts expected.

Stakeholders' views were divided, with stakeholders placing PET bottles on the market strongly in favour, because they would have a privileged, assured and less costly supply of recycled PET. Stakeholders who would not have a right to first refusal believe the regulatory intervention into the newly created market for the various recyclates will jeopardise single market rules, restrict these markets and lead therefore to suboptimal allocations and damage their ability to innovate.

Measure 26cc: Waste collection schemes alternative to DRS

This measure focusses on the separate collection via EPR schemes for certain packaging, which have proven to be efficient and effective in terms of the amount of separately collected waste and its high purity. Ma&b ensures that a 90% collection target is reached in a cost-efficient way by means of mandatory DRS for aluminium beverage cans and plastic bottles. M26cc however, refers to the possibility of setting up efficient and effective EPR based actions for beverage containers.

There is evidence that in some Member States and for certain beverage containers, well designed and operated EPR schemes are efficient to achieve high collection rates without DRS in place. Considering that all Member States will by 2025 have EPR schemes in place, it is expected that the costs to close the gap to a 90% collection target via specific measures within the EPR schemes would not exceed the costs of mandatory DRS for beverage containers. However, separate waste collection via EPR schemes may not be so efficient to reach high collection rates than DRS. The environmental savings of this measure is similar to Ma/b and could be slightly higher because also other containers of the same packaging type could be included into the separate collection scheme. Stakeholders from Member States without DRS for aluminium beverage cans and plastic bottles, but with well-established EPR systems, argued that these Member States should exempted from the mandatory DRS if they can guarantee the 90% collection rate via EPR schemes.

Measure 32c: Notification of all substances in packaging 

M32c has a wider scope than the alternative 32b: the substances to be notified would cover all the substances known to be present in any given packaging or packaging material placed on the market. Therefore, this measure would be effective in developing an exhaustive inventory of all substances in packaging. However, it is likely to raise important concerns in industry in terms of the communication and use of confidential business information.

This measure would have higher costs in terms of implementation as compared to M32b. Economic impacts will be higher than M32b while no significant social and environmental impacts are expected for this measure as its nature is only information analysis. The potential need for testing could however have a small economic impact on operators. This measure is likely to impose an additional administrative burden on producers/importers, as it will include substances that were not previously reported. Producers/importers have to collect information from their supply chain or obtain/verify it directly through targeted chemical analysis.

Measure 33b: Restrictions of substances under the reviewed PPWD

This measure differs from the alternative M33a in that the procedure to make these restrictions into law would be carried out under the revised PPWD itself, via delegated acts and by introducing the list of restricted substances in an annex, to be created for this purpose in the Regulation.

Effectiveness of option 3 on the restrictions of substances under the reviewed PPWD would be similar of M33a. The task of restricting substances of concern relevant to packaging would be done with the advice of a dedicated expert group established under the PPWD and enacted via delegated acts under the PPWD (instead of under REACH). Similar to M33a, implementation of this measure would be simple as the approach relies on procedures already established under the REACH Regulation. An additional difficulty might arise in ensuring the availability of adequate chemicals risk management expertise in the responsible Commission service. Further administrative burden is expected for stakeholders that would be affected by the scope of a specific restriction on a substance used in packaging. Economic impacts are expected to be the same as in M33a. In terms of social and environmental impacts, it would be similar to M33a, providing more effective tool to ensure protection of the human health and environment from the substances of concern in packaging. Stakeholders’ views express concerns that PPWD may not be the appropriate instrument for restricting chemicals and that this should be left to REACH and the Food Contact Material (FCM) regulation.

Measure 40c: Mandatory minimum GPP criteria for packaging of all products and services

This measure deploys a horizontal approach to mandating the application of a general set of packaging criteria across all public sector contracts where packaging arises. It would require Member States and related contracting authorities to apply mandatory minimum packaging criteria to relevant contracts above and below OJEU financial threshold.

Similar to the alternative M40b, it is expected to be effective as it is mandatory and will entail the widening of existing GPP criteria. In terms of administrative burden, the implementation of the current measure’s administrative activities would impact: (i) The European Commission to develop GPP criteria (this might be less burdensome than creation of specific criteria under M40b); (ii) Member States to ensure that new criteria are implemented, monitored, and reported on, (iii) Public bodies to update their tendering process, and (iv) Suppliers to update their packaging source options. Overall, similar to M40b, specific economic, environmental and social impacts could not be quantified since they depend on the choice of the GPP criteria selected. The social impact is expected to be minimal, resulting in the creation of jobs in the reuse business and the reduction of littler in local environments. Stakeholders were mostly positive about this measure, some highlighted that the new criteria should be aligned with other packaging sustainability criteria.

Measure 34b: Mandatory reporting requirement for recycled content for all packaging 

This measure would indirectly encourage the increased use of recycled content in packaging. Improving the quality of and access to data on the current performance of the packaging sector in the area of recycled content will help identify best practice and improve the effectiveness of policy making in this regard. However, the administrative burden for this reporting obligation is significant, without having positive effects on job creation. Stakeholders expressed concern about the additional administrative burden and some suggested to postpone targets for recycled content while such a system is established and delivering data for the decisions on recycled content targets.

6.5.    Transfers of Financial Cost

The following figures showcase for the measures with the most significant economic impacts an overview of how the costs identified are transferred from the packaging producers to the consumers, including the waste management (EPR fees). Whilst it is not certain whether all costs borne by industry will be transferred, it is assumed for the purposes of the analysis that any increase in costs by producers will filter down the value chain. All costs are for the specific measure and will change when combined with other measure as part of an option, although the key actors and where revenues transfer from one industry to another will not change.

Figure 10: Transfers of financial costs for Measure 8b – Mandatory reuse targets

The mandatory reuse targets see a significant transfer of revenue from single use packaging producers to multi-use packaging producers. This is net reduction in packaging requirements is passed through as a cost reduction to retailers. The costs associated with production and the logistics of reusable packaging are met by the retailers, but as this is lower than the cost savings, there is a net financial benefit to consumers. This diagram also applies to 8c, but with higher costs due to the higher targets.

Figure 11: Transfers of financial costs for Measure 7 – Phase out Avoidable / Unnecessary Packaging

Avoiding unnecessary packaging also would result in moves to reusable alternatives, but the main impact is the reduction in revenue by single use packaging producers, resulting overall in net savings for the consumers. 

Figure 12: Transfers of financial costs for Measure 2b – Waste prevention targets

Naturally, the overarching M2b shows similar transfers than the single waste prevention measures but with larger absolute cost impacts. Consumers would be significantly benefited.

6.6.    Cost benefit analysis of options

This section sets out the cost-benefit analysis by intervention area, and where possible measure, for Options 1, 2 and 3. These are based on the mass flow model described in Annex 4. The analysis covers the financial impacts calculated in the model. Some measures could not be included in the model. In particular, measures in Option 1 are to a large extent outside the model as, for example, the costs and benefits of reducing over packaging in line with a revised Essential Requirements is difficult to quantify.

Costs are measured relative to the baseline, so a negative impact represents a saving; for example, a negative value in “waste management costs” means that waste management costs are reduced. The assumption is that all cost savings (reductions of operators´ turn-over) will be fully passed through to consumers/EU citizens. (This assumption is reasonable, as the markets tend to be competitive.) Raw material and waste management costs are therefore included in packaging consumption and to avoid double counting are not added on top.

The results of modelling measures by themselves (sections 6.1-6.4) are not the same as the results of modelling the measures as part of the policy options in this section due to overlaps, which are sorted out in the comprehensive analysis. More generally, the model does not capture the benefits of moving towards a more circular economy within packaging, including benefits such as empowering consumers, reducing negative impacts on the environment and human health, improving the security of the supply of raw materials (including a reduction in using fossil resources), increasing competitiveness, stimulating innovation and boosting economic growth. New business models focused on for example reuse or recycling offer innovation opportunities and the creation of new employment, including those that involve e.g. the creation of new business models for reuse systems, better recycling and sorting management as well as reverse logistics, R&D and innovation, sustainable product design, and digitalisation.

The modelling captures all of the different financial impacts. The only measure outside the model with quantified financial impacts relates to labelling, but whilst this has significant costs it also has significant savings. As such, it does not change the net impact as the measure effectively has net zero costs.

The modelling results for option 1 (Table 5) shows a reduction in economic costs of EUR 1.6 billion and monetised environmental benefits of EUR 967 million, giving a total net benefit of EUR 2.6 billion in 2030.

Table 5: Monetised impacts of Option 1 relative to baseline (2030, million €)

Costs and benefits analysis

Prevention and Reuse

Recyclable and Compostable

Total

M5

M21

M22a

M29a

Packaging producers & waste management operators

-1,186

-173

-260

1

-1,618

- Raw materials

-961

40

60

1

-860

- Waste Management Costs

- 225

63

91

0

-71

Net economic impact

-1,186

-173

-260

1

-1,618

Environmental impacts

-403

-223

-337

-4

-967

Total monetised impact

-1,589

-396

-597

-3

-2,585

Option 2 (table 7) results in overall economic savings of EUR 47.2 billion from 2030 baseline revenues of EUR 378 billion, which are predominantly due to the reduction of packaging by 19%. Having to buy less packaging, creates financial savings to consumers (line d). This has been calculated through an examination of turnover from the packaging producers: if consumers buy 100 Euros less of packaging, producers receive 100 Euros less of income (ie turnover falls) and their expenditure on raw materials, labour etc falls along with their profits. However, that 100 Euros is a benefit from the point of view of society.

There will though be increases of costs for operators for reuse and DRS. On top of this, the monetised environmental benefits is EUR 6.4 billion. Whereas the additional costs in the areas of recycled content are more than compensated by the reduction of environmental externalities, this is not the case for M29d and Ma&b. The latter is due to the costs for the introduction of mandatory DRS schemes. On M29d, the environmental benefits of more plastic waste composting are not so evident to compensate for the higher costs of the additional compostable plastics.

Table 6: Monetised impacts of Option 2 relative to baseline (2030, million €)

Costs and benefits analysis

Prevention and Reuse

Recyclable and Compostable

Recycled Content

Enabling Measures

Total

M2b (M5, M7, M8b)

M21, M22a, M22b

M29d

M35em

Ma&b

Reuse schemes (a)

4,090

0

0

0

0

4,090

Biowaste contamination (b)

0

0

-122

0

0

-122

DRS Schemes (c)

-429

13

0

0

939

523

Savings for consumers from reduced packaging consumption (d)

-52,218

-426

734

232

-51

- 51,729

- Raw material costs

-11,078

290

380

231

-51

-10,228

- Waste management costs

-4,221

93

-79

0

0

-4,207

Net economic impact (a+b+c+d)

-48,557

-413

612

232

888

-47,238

Environmental impacts

-3,662

-1,533

-175

-710

-309

-6,389

Total monetised impact

-52,219

-1,946

437

-478

579

-53,627

For option 3 (Table 7), the savings for the EU economy are EUR 53.9 billion per annum in 2030, plus environmental benefits of EUR 8.3 billion. The specific impacts are in line with those of option 2, but reach a higher level. Again, the reduction in packaging of 23% is the main driver for the impacts and the environmental benefits of the measures on compostability and DRS are not compensated by the economic costs.

The cost-benefit ratio, (simplistically) shows modelled costs of EUR 4.5 billion and benefits of EUR 58.1 billion, so a ratio of 1 to 13.

Table 7: Monetised impacts of Option 3 relative to baseline (2030, million €)

Costs and benefits analysis

Prevention and Reuse

Recyclable and Compostable

Recycled Content

Enabling Measures

Total

M2c (M3, M5, M7, M8c)

M21, M22a, M22b

M29b

M35eh

Ma&b

Reuse schemes (a)

4,765

0

0

0

0

4,765

Biowaste contamination (b)

0

0

-188

0

0

-188

DRS Schemes (c)

-160

11

0

0

932

783

Savings for consumers from reduced packaging consumption (d)

-59,911

-982

948

700

-49

-59,293

- Raw material costs

-12,875

-613

542

700

0

-12,245

- Waste management costs

-4,852

143

-171

0

-49

-4,929

Net economic impact (a+b+c+d)

-55,306

-971

760

700

883

-53,933

Environmental impacts

-4,902

-1,334

-546

-1,225

-299

-8,306

Total monetised impact

-60,208

-2,305

214

-525

584

-62,239

The overall savings for consumers, mainly due to the reduced expenditures on packaging, may be to a small extent be offset by ‘hassle’ or ‘in-convenience’ costs that are not covered in the model, such as the cost of better packaging sorting or for the reuse systems. For individual consumers, the impacts will vary depending on their consumption habits and their preferences.

The cost-benefit ratio, (simplistically) shows modelled costs of EUR 5.5 billion and benefits of EUR 67.7 billion, so a ratio of 1 to 12.

6.7.    Comparison of policy options

Table 9 ranks the options for several impact categories:

·Option 1 is easy to implement, would deliver some economic benefits for consumers, and some positive contribution towards the environmental objectives.

·Option 2 involves a considerable increase in effectiveness, contributing to a greater degree to the different specific objectives. The measure is economically beneficial, with significant savings for consumers and delivers significant environmental benefits. The measures could involve some administrative costs, depending in part on the choices of Member States.

·Option 3 involves a further step up in the effectiveness for delivery of the different specific objectives. The measure is also the most economically beneficial and delivers the highest environmental benefits. However, the ease of implementation is lower, reflecting the difficulty of delivering some of the measures in practice. Also, the measures would involve further administrative costs for operators and authorities. Hence, the effectiveness gain comes at a disproportionate price.

Overall, Option 1 of better standardisation and clearer Essential Requirements is a low risk option, delivering some environmental benefits at very low cost (so is very efficient). Option 2 is a significant step forward, with some significant choice for legislators, such as the reuse, waste reduction and recycled content targets, steps forward in compostability and the measures to ensure full recyclability by 2030. Option 3 could be the most effective, but actual effectiveness / efficiency would be reduced by the challenges inherent in implementing more ambitious targets and more intrusive provisions for the operators. In terms of coherence, each of the options complements, for example, the Single Use Plastics Directive and efforts to reduce plastics use.

The social impacts in Option 2 and 3 are broadly similar, with some limited net direct positive job creation. This could be offset through changes in other sectors, but the impacts are not considered significant (and to some extent are captured in the efficiency and economic impact categories).

Table 8 shows the effectiveness (overall and for the different specific objectives), efficiency (are benefits delivered at low cost?), coherence and the economic, social and environmental impacts. Pluses reflect positive impacts.

Table 8: Comparison of the options:

Impact categories

Option 1

Option 2

Option 3

Effectiveness in delivering specific objectives

+

++

+++

-Reduce the generation of packaging waste

0

++

+++

-Promote a circular economy for packaging in a cost-efficient way

++

+

+

-Promote the uptake of recycled content in packaging

+

++

+++

Efficiency

+++

++

+

Coherence

+++

++

++

Overall economic impacts

++++

+++

++

Administrative costs for MSs, businesses and citizens

0

--

---

Savings for consumers

+

+++

++++

Ease of implementation

+

--

----

Overall environmental impacts

+

++++

++++++

Overall Social Impacts

0

+

+

7.    Preferred option

7.1.    The preferred policy package

With respect to the problems in the respective sections of chapter 2 and arguments detailed in section 5.1, there will be a switch from a Directive to a Regulation. As packaging and its waste management varies depending on the product category, the new Regulation will work in coherence and synergy with existing related regulations and other initiatives announced in the CEAP or implementing the European Green Deal, such as the WFD, SUPD, FCM and other food legislation, REACH Regulation, EU Taxonomy Regulation and the upcoming Regulations on Eco-design for Sustainable Products.

Based on the assessment of the measures combined in the options packages, the overall preferred option is Option 2. It contains the measures in Option 1 that are supportive or even pre-requisites for the Option 2 measures, i.e. to facilitate delivery on the mandatory targets and stricter requirements in a balanced approach, thus fostering effectiveness (achievement of the objectives) and efficiency (cost-effectiveness). The measures in Option 1 (no targets established nor strict harmonised provisions) alone are not sufficient to stop the growth in packaging generation (increase just reduced by 2%). Thus, packaging waste would increase by 16.8% in 2030 compared to 2018. Moreover, the recycling rates would not increase, neither would high quality recycling and resource efficiency be enhanced. Finally, it would fail to deliver sufficiently on the environmental objectives of the Green Deal; the GHG emissions would still increase compared to 2018, as they are only reduced by 3.3 million t compared to the baseline 2030.

On the other side, the full set of measures in Option 3, alternative or additional to those in Option 2, are much more difficult to implement, risk economic viability and feasibility, and cause significantly higher administrative burden and costs. In reverse, the overall additional benefits on environment and jobs of Option 3 vs Option 2 are less significant.

However, a diligent case by case evaluation was undertaken in order to detect elements of measures outside Option 2, whose integration into the preferred policy option would further improve the environmental performance and feasibility, while still being proportionate. Along this line, some refinement of Option 2 was done to better respect the subsidiarity principle and to take into account pertinent stakeholder positions. With respect to the remaining confusion of citizens in the measure about compostability of Option 2 (M29d), whether certain biodegradable plastic packaging should be disposed of in the bio-waste stream or the receptacle for material recycling, it should be clarified that these packaging items are to be valorised via material recycling. This, combined with the short list of mandatorily compostable packaging items, would eliminate the hybrid status of these packaging items and thus increase carbon circularity, as recycling of these packaging makes it possible to have a biogenic carbon sink instead of a short-term CO2 release via composting 58 . Moreover, flexibility could be given to Member States, where -subject to the respective infrastructure established on their territory- lightweight plastic carrier bags >15 micron cannot enter the bio-waste stream, so that these plastic carrier bags go into material recycling and not into composting. Furthermore, a waiver from the mandatory DRS for plastic bottles and beverage cans could be established in the preferred option in case the Member State can ensure that the 90% collection rate is achieved by other means (combination of Ma&b with M26cc). With respect to these refinements, the preferred policy package is rather ´Option 2+´ than the pure Option 2.

Table 9 brings together all measures that were included into the preferred policy option package based on the assessment of their specific and complementary impacts in the various areas.

Table 9: Measures selected for the preferred policy option 2+

Intervention area

Option 2+: Mandatory targets and stricter requirements

Prevention and reuse

M2b: Mandatory target of 5% reduction of packaging waste per capita in 2030 compared to 2018, supplemented with a reduction targets for 2035 and 2040

M1: Update of Essential Requirements to minimize over-packaging

M5: Minimization of empty space in packaging in selected sectors, incl e-commerce

M7: Phase out avoidable / unnecessary packaging

M8b: Mandatory targets to increase the reuse of packaging by 2030/2040 in selected sectors

M10a: Revision of CEN standard for defining reusable packaging

M10b: Definitions and mandatory requirements for reusable packaging formats set in EU legislation and standards for some formats

M10c: Definition and mandatory standards for reuse systems

M19: Clarification of reuse activity versus a “preparing for reuse” activity

Recyclability and

compostability

M21a: All packaging shall be reusable or recyclable by 2030- clarification of Essential Requirements and recyclability definition

M21b: All reusable packaging must be recyclable as of 2030

M22a: Qualitative definition of recyclable packaging

M22b: Definition of recyclable packaging based on design for recycling (DfR) criteria complemented by the recyclability assessment procedure and a negative list of non-recyclable packaging characteristics

M23: Harmonisation of EPR Fee Modulation Criteria based on recyclability assessment

M28: Clarification of biodegradability and compostability and updates of respective Essential Requirements & standard EN 13432

M29d+: Mandatory compostability for certain out of the selected plastics packaging types and requirement of material recyclability for the remaining biodegradable plastic packaging

Recycled content

M35em: High ambition targets for recycled content in plastic packaging based on contact-sensitivity for 2030 and 2040 

M37: Definition of Recycled Content and measurement method  

Enabling measures

Ma&b+: Mandatory DRS for plastic bottles and beverage cans (waiver if Member States can prove 90% collections targets achieved by other means) and minimum requirements for all DRS  

M27c-y: Harmonised labelling of products and waste receptacles to facilitate consumers´ sorting

M12-u: Harmonised, mandatory labelling for reusable packaging

M38-j: Labelling criteria for Recycled Content 

Mx: Update of current material-based labelling: Removal of alphanumeric codes for waste sorters

Mk: Restrictions on use of confusing labels

M31: Update of definitions concerning hazardous substance

M32a: Expanding the information on hazardous substances

M32b: Notification of substances of concern in packaging

M33a: Restrictions of hazardous substances under REACH

M40b: Minimum GPP criteria for packaging of priority products and services

M42b: Harmonization of EPR reporting system

MPCB: Extended reporting obligation on PCB

An important issue is the complementarity and coherence of the different measures. Setting mandatory reduction targets of packaging waste at Member State level is the overarching measure in the intervention area of prevention and reuse. M2b sets an exogenous reduction target of packaging waste per capita for 2030 compared 2018 of 5% (19.1% less packaging waste than in the baseline). In order to ensure that the reduction efforts continue beyond 2030, a reduction target of 10% could be set for 2035 (reduction of 29% compared to baseline) and for 2040 a reduction target of 15% could be set (reduction of 37% compared to baseline). The measures on packaging recyclability will improve the market conditions along the waste value chain, support Member States in meeting the existing recycling targets in the PPWD and allow those who do so already to progress further. Further, the enhanced recyclability is a pre-condition for more packaging circularity.

7.2.    Impacts of the preferred policy package 

The modelling and the discussion in chapter 6 demonstrates that the combination of measures included in the preferred option package is overall the best performing and most proportionate combination:

Packaging waste generation would be reduced in 2030 by 18 million t (32 million t in 2040) compared to baseline waste generation of 92.4 million t for 2030 (107 million t in 2040). This means that 3.1 million t less packaging waste is generated than in 2018 (Option 1: +13Mt, Option 3: -7Mt). The biggest reductions are modelled for the producers of transport packaging (Corrugated and other board boxes: -7.6 million t down from 29.7 million t in baseline 2030, wood pallets: -4 million t down from 13.9 million t in baseline 2030, plastic wrapping: -1.5 million t down from 4.4 million t in baseline 2030) and glass beverage containers (-1.7 million t down from 12 million t in baseline 2030). On the other side, producers of plastic crates and boxes for multi-use would increase sales by 0.8 million t compared to baseline 2030.

Option 2+ results in overall economic savings of EUR 47.2 billion compared to the baseline 2030: additional costs for reuse and DRS of EUR 4.6 billion, reduced costs in waste management of EUR 4.2 billion and reduced sales and consumption of packaging of EUR 51.7 billion. In reverse, this option results in additional annual administrative costs of EUR 1.3 billion, mainly for certification of the packaging recyclability and of the recycled content in plastic packaging. The complex impacts on employment are estimated to result in a slight net increase of about 29.000 “green” jobs. If the economic savings were completely transferred to the consumers, the yearly savings per citizen are in the order of 100€.

The modelled reduction in GHG emission is 23 million t compared to the baseline 2030 (42% of the total CO2e emissions of Hungary) and would bring them down to 43 million t. Option 1 would still lead to an increase to 62 million t in 2030 and Option 3 would decrease them by an additional 6 million t. Water use would be reduced by 1.1 million m3. The monetised environmental externalities are reduced by EUR 6.4 billion relative to the baseline 2030.

Due to the recent geopolitical developments, special focus was given to the EU`s import dependency on raw materials and fossil fuel: The measures on recycled content reduce fossil fuel requirements of the EU by 3.1 million t per year (almost 1/4 of the fossil fuel needed currently for plastic packaging production). The overall decrease in fossil fuel needs of Option 2+ is difficult to quantify but the fact that the GHG savings of the recycled content measure represent 22% of the total GHG savings indicates an order of magnitude of 12-15 million t fossil fuel savings. Further, the measures to improve recyclability increase the overall packaging recycling rate from 66.5% in 2018 to 73% in 2030 (landfill is decreased from 18.7% to 9.6%). This push for circularity results in significantly reduced needs of virgin raw materials such as wood, glass and aluminium.

Overall, the reduction in packaging volumes and transition to a resource efficient waste value chain translates into reduced costs of packaging and efficiency gains for society as a whole. Moving towards a more circular economy within packaging would deliver benefits such as empowering consumers, reducing negative impacts on the environment and human health, improving the security of the supply of raw materials (including a reduction in using fossil resources), increasing competitiveness, stimulating innovation and boosting economic growth. The proposed measures will stimulate the creation of jobs linked to the circular economy, including those that involve e.g. the creation of new business models for reuse systems, better recycling and sorting management as well as reverse logistics, R&D and innovation, sustainable product design, digitalisation, but also education, government and professional services, that all support the transition towards circular economy by reducing packaging and waste generation. Furthermore, the preferred option will reduce hazardous chemicals in packaging and phase out unsustainable packaging such as single use hotel ‘miniatures’ for liquid hair shampoo or single use multi-item collation packaging for fresh vegetables. Finally, it will change consumer behaviour, allowing citizens to make sustainable choices by providing them with relevant information and affordable options. It will also nudge consumers towards more environmentally friendly purchases by correcting market failures.

7.3.    Feasibility 

Overall, the preferred measures included under Option 2+ are technically feasible and efficient in delivering economic, environmental and social improvements. Notably, the preferred measures will help Member States reinforce design for reuse and promote high quality recycling to reduce the generation of packaging waste. The transition to a low-carbon and circular economy can be implemented meeting the targets in the field packaging and packaging waste. Furthermore, the Regulation will allow the setup of a coherent approach among Member States.

Many of the measures are based on Member State experience, for example:

·Waste reduction targets: France recently set reduction, reuse and recycling targets for 2021-2025 (e.g. the reduction target is 20% by 31 December 2025). Spain is setting quantified targets, with a reduction in the weight of waste produced of 15% by 2025 compared to 2010, in addition to the current target of a 10% reduction from 2020 onwards.

·Uptake in reuse solutions: In France, larger retail stores must provide customers with clean containers suitable for reuse and accept that consumers bring their own container. In Germany, owners of restaurants and retailers will have to offer reusable alternatives instead of single-use plastic packaging from 2023 when selling food and beverages for immediate consumption. 

·Value chain collaborations: Denmark have introduced several sector collaborations on waste reduction with e.g. the HORECA sector. They face a target of 50 % reduction of certain plastic take-away packaging in 2026. The goal must initially be sought to be achieved through a binding sector collaboration in the restaurant sector. Further regulation will be implemented, if the goal is not achieved voluntary, ensuring that small and medium-sized companies are not disadvantaged.

·DRS: Several Member Stats have a DRS for beverage packing in plastic (predominantly PET) and metal (some for glass) in place - including The Netherlands, Sweden, Estonia, Finland, Lithuania, Germany and Denmark. Hungary, Romania, and Portugal are expected to achieve effective DRS soon.

·Labelling: The Nordic pictogram system are mandatory to use on all waste bins in Denmark and consists of a number of symbols and colours that are used in connection with waste sorting. The symbols for waste sorting can also be used on packaging. A symbol on a packaging design ensures a visual link between the empty packaging and the waste container, making it simpler for consumers to sort packaging waste. 150+ private users have already voluntary adopted the pictograms on their products and packaging. 

·GPP criteria: In Denmark, all public procurement must be eco-labelled by 2030.The specific phasing in will take place in close collaboration with the companies in the individual areas, so that we, for example, ensure that small and medium-sized companies are not disadvantaged.

In terms of technical and economic feasibility, the measures will improve the availability of recycled source material and improve the quality of recyclates. In doing so, the proposed option will reduce the costs of recycled materials and thereby reduce the use of virgin materials. It will do so through a mixture of enabling more efficient markets by addressing information failures and directing through additional targets, as well as addressing regulatory failures. Where possible prices will be redirected to make markets more efficient. Doing so it will support Member States in meeting both the existing targets (which for some are a challenge) and the new targets that will be set. Overall, it is expected that all packaging will be reusable or recyclable in an economically feasible manner by 2030 and there will be a significant reduction in packaging, over-packaging and thereby packaging waste.

The new Regulation should foresee sufficient time for economic operators to comply with their obligations under this Regulation. Also, for Member States, adequate phase in time should be established to allow them setting up the administrative infrastructure necessary for its application. The application of the Regulation should therefore also be deferred to a date where those preparations can reasonably be finalised. 

The impact for SMEs is considered proportionate as reasonable efforts are required to reach the objectives of each measure under Option 2. In case a measure had significant negative impacts on SMEs, an exemption was included e.g. in M8c, M35em, M42b. In order to facilitate compliance by SMEs with their obligations and requirements under the new Regulation, guidance should be elaborated by the Commission in consultation with the stakeholders. If a specific measure implied disproportionate burden for SMEs that could not be addressed by an exemption, it was either put in Option 3 (e.g. M34b) or completely discarded. The proposed option would strike a proper balance between predictability and legal certainty and allowing for technological progress. This is important for packaging as it is a developing and innovative market, where there is a need to facilitate adaptability and regulatory responsiveness in line with technological and market developments.

7.4.    International Aspects

The measures would apply equally to domestic and imported products. European producers would not be disadvantaged in their ability to function inside or outside Europe; nor would non-European producers be disadvantaged in the sense that they would face the same requirements. For example, the current Essential Requirements would be updated on over-packaging, and imported products would need to comply. 

The measures should not be more trade restrictive than necessary to fulfil their environmental objectives. The proposed initiative would mostly not affect production costs in a significant manner. The only area, where exporters to the EU might be significantly affected, are the requirements for minimum inclusion rates of recycled plastic in new packaging. The assessment of this measure underpins (see Annex 9.5), that its environmental benefits clearly justify this requirement for plastic packaging placed on the EU market.

As the proposed initiative will aim at further harmonisation, it will also facilitate imports from outside the EU, which will not have to comply with diverging requirements amongst the MS: this should also be beneficial for Market Surveillance Authorities. Third countries (most recently Canada, the US and South Korea), as part of the regular discussions on Technical Barriers to Trade, have underlined their desire to have more harmonisation in Europe – in particular for labelling and rules for single use packaging- and that the current different regimes in the MS lead to unnecessary costs for their businesses operating in Europe.

In line with current EU international cooperation, the EU will provide support to developing and least developed countries for the green transition. In particular, efforts will be made to mitigate possible adverse effects if need be (for example, via capacity building to ensure a better understanding of the Essential Requirements or the definition of recyclability). In the medium/long term EU packaging requirements are likely to influence packaging requirements internationally.

The reduction in packaging waste would also lead to reduced amounts of shipped waste, including exported from the EU. This is consistent with the EU’s objective to stop exporting its waste problems by ensuring exported waste is treated in a sustainable manner, while respecting the EU’s international legal obligations. Overall, the proposal is in line with the Basel Convention and will also be consistent with the ongoing work on a global Plastics Treaty.

7.5.    Regulatory burden and simplification 

The Regulation will reduce the burden for Member States to develop and establish their national systems within the framework of the current Directive. The harmonised framework for packaging and its waste streams will simplify several procedures, for example the reporting of the transposition of the provisions in the Directive and the respective follow up work in the Commission.

With respect to the regulatory burden for the operators, the preferred option will ensure savings in waste management costs especially due to the mandatory target of packaging waste reduction introduced by M2b and the better waste sorting due to M27c-y. Nevertheless, in the first years of implementation, compliance costs will increase for packaging producers who would need to re-design packaging as per M22b, M8b and M29d. Furthermore, the Regulation will provide legal certainty in various contentious issues, thus facilitating operators´ decision making.

The preferred option, enshrined in the Regulation, will include important reductions in regulatory burden due to the harmonisation: In the context of recyclability, this option will streamline procedures by providing a clear definition of recyclable packaging based on Design for Recycling criteria. The harmonised state of the art labelling for consumer sorting, recycled content and reusable packaging will significantly reduce the compliance cost of the packaging producers, apart from the efficiency gains. In addition to that, the preferred option will allow the harmonised collection of data on hazardous waste on packaging and integrate minimum criteria for packaging of priority products under mandatory GPP, thus facilitating a coherent approach among Member States. Furthermore, Option 2 will harmonise the EPR reporting system for packaging producers. Governance frameworks for monitoring, reporting and enforcing systems will need to be established at Member States for efficient implementation and enforcement.

7.6.    Application of the ‘one in, one out’ approach

The One In One Out analysis (see Annex 3 for details) considers administrative burdens for businesses and citizens (excluding public authorities). Many measures will have negligible costs, associated with, for example, updating Essential Requirements. The most significant costs will relate to the new, harmonised labelling (requirement to label packaging with alphanumeric codes will be replaced by pictograms): the additional administrative burden is estimated at around EUR 2.6 billion during the 4 years phase in period. However, this will be offset (at least) by savings: the savings in administrative costs simply from avoiding multiple labels, are in the order of 0.3% 59 to 3% of the concerned industry´s turnover. If we apply a 0.5% saving only to the EU food and drink industry (turnover of €1.1 trillion), their administrative costs would be reduced by EUR 5.5 billion. Stakeholders are supportive of the changes, given the likely net benefits.

The certification of recyclability, which is the key to raise recycling rates and quality recycling, results in administrative costs for the packaging producers of EUR 1.14 billion.

8.     How will impacts be monitored and evaluated?

Effective monitoring relies on harmonised reporting of packaging placed on the market and the reporting on the collection and recycling rates of the different packaging materials. Existing reporting obligations would provide much of the reporting framework needed to monitor targets; however, some additional reporting obligations on Member States will be introduced for waste prevention targets. For reusable packaging targets, monitoring the increase in its use could be done via existing reporting requirements under Art. 12(3) PPWD or through a new system – based on digital product passport - to track reuse per item combined with auditing and results of pilot studies on performance evaluation, if the future definition on reuse was to capture broad reuse systems (e.g., refill on the go, return at home, etc.).

Market surveillance authorities will support monitoring activities at the level of obligated economic operators. Monitoring the target of increasing the level of recycled content in packaging would be undertaken through M34b (reporting obligation on the recycled content), which obliges economic operators to provide data on the levels of recycled content in their packaging by 2025. Authorised certification bodies will certify the recycled content of packaging formats to economic operators. Monitoring the increase in packaging recyclability requires a harmonised approach to defining recyclability, on-line self-assessment tool and a certification system with accredited certifiers. M22b sets out details of the proposed assessment system. In case M22c was preferred, this would require setting up of new tracing technologies at industrial scale; this is considered unfeasible before 2030. The monitoring of the amount of packaging waste generated, is already covered through data transmitted to Eurostat. In order to monitor measures to reduce cross-contamination of compostable packaging in the recycling stream, it is first necessary to understand the current levels of cross-contamination and then to monitor progress. Member States should regularly undertake waste stream surveys to obtain the data required.

For hazardous substances, M32a has no effect on the monitoring as it relies on existing information on packaging. M32b and M32c introduce a new obligation for the notification of all substances of concern used in packaging by the supplier who places the packaging and packaging materials on the EU market.  Its monitoring involves a notification system that would imply the development of a dedicated IT infrastructure.  Finally, monitoring of labelling will be done by the Member States’ market surveillance authorities.

M42 (EPR reporting harmonisation) will provide much of the reporting framework needed to monitor many of the identified objectives. The aim of the monitoring arrangements detailed above is to collect factual data on the implementation of the legislative proposal. This would help a future evaluation assess whether the new provisions achieve the intended objectives efficiently.

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(53)

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(54)

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(59)

Over 90% of the turnover loss quantified in section 2.3 is due to supply chain inefficiencies, only 2% for printing different labels

Top

Brussels, 30.11.2022

SWD(2022) 384 final

COMMISSION STAFF WORKING DOCUMENT

IMPACT ASSESSMENT REPORT

Accompanying the document

Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and Council

on packaging and packaging waste, amending Regulation (EU) 2019/1020, and repealing Directive 94/62/EC

{COM(2022) 677 final} - {SEC(2022) 425 final} - {SWD(2022) 385 final}


Contents

Glossary

Annex 1: Procedural information

1.1.Lead DG, Decide Planning/CWP references

1.2.Organisation and timing

1.3.Consultation of the RSB

1.4.Evidence, sources and quality

Annex 2: Stakeholder consultation

2.1. Feedback on the inception impact assessment

2.2.Open public consultation

2.3.Stakeholder workshops

Annex 3: Who is affected and how?

3.1. Introduction

3.2. Practical implications of the initiative

Annex 4: Analytical methods

4.1. The methodological framework

4.2.Description of the model

Waste Prevention and reuse    

Recyclability    

Recycled Content    

Compostable Packaging    

Financial costs model    

Environmental impacts    

Social impacts    

Annex 5: Legal environment

5.1. Legal Basis

5.2. Nature of the instrument

5.3. Articulation with existing and emerging EU policy

Annex 6: The problem analysis

6.1. Problem Tree

6.2. High and growing levels of packaging waste

6.3. High levels of avoidable packaging

Pharmaceutical packaging    

Problem Evolution    

6.4.Increase in the proportion of packaging that is single-use

6.4.1.    Non Transport Packaging    

6.5.Low levels of packaging recyclability

6.5.3.    Problem Drivers    

6.6.Cross-contamination of conventional and compostable recycling streams

6.6.2.    Problem Drivers    

6.6.3.    Problem Evolution    

6.6.4.    Problem Tree    

6.7.Inconsistent/ confusing labelling of recyclable packaging

6.8.Low levels of uptakes of recycled content in packaging

6.8.5.    Problem evolution    

6.8.6.    Problem Tree    

6.9.What are the problem drivers?

6.10.Summary of consequences

6.11.How will the problem evolve?

6.12.Who is affected and how?

Annex 7: Innovation - LIFE and HORIZON project best practices

7.1. Executive Summary

7.2. Introduction

7.3. Project results highlights per intervention area

7.3.1.1.    Scope of this intervention area    

7.3.1.2.    Overview of best practices from projects    

7.3.1.3.    Fiches of projects mentioned    

7.3.2.1.    Scope of this intervention area    

7.3.2.2.    Overview of best practices from projects    

7.3.3.1.    Scope of this intervention area    

7.3.3.2.    Overview of best practices from projects    

7.3.3.3.    Fiches of projects mentioned    

7.3.4.1.    Scope of this intervention area    

7.3.4.2.    Overview of best practices from projects    

7.3.4.3.    Fiches of projects mentioned    

Annex 8: Baseline and Development of Options

8.1. Baseline

8.2.Future Projections

8.3.Identification of Measures and construction of policy options

Option 1: Better standardisation and clearer Essential Requirements

M1 Update of Essential Requirements to minimize over-packaging    

M10a Revision of existing CEN standard    

M19 Providing clarity on the definition of reuse activity versus a “preparing for reuse” activity    

M5 Minimization of empty space in packaging in selected sectors, including e-commerce    

M21 Update of Essential Requirements: by 2030 all packaging to be reusable or recyclable, and reusable packaging to be recyclable (with exemptions)    

M22a Qualitative definition of recyclable packaging    

M28 Updates of Essential Requirements and EN 13432: clarifying biodegradability and compostability concepts    

In addition, M29a would allow both compostable and conventional plastics for selected plastic packaging types. The use of compostable plastic packaging would not be allowed for other packaging types.    

M31 Update of definitions concerning hazardous substance    

M32a Expanding the information on hazardous substances based on existing information    

M27c-y Update of current material-based labelling    

This measure further harmonizes the existing packaging labelling system based on the alphanumerical codes for different packaging materials as detailed in Article 8 of the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive and Decision 97/129/EC and envisages the review of the Decision.    

Option 2: Mandatory targets and stricter requirements

M10b Definitions and mandatory requirements for reusable packaging formats set in eu legislation and standard for some formats    

M10c Definition and mandatory standards for reuse systems, in terms of incentives, infrastructure, logistics, required reporting etc., set in legislation and standard    

M7 Phase out avoidable / unnecessary packaging    

M2b Mandatory target of 5% reduction of packaging waste per capita by 2030 compared to 2018    

Finally, M8b Mandatory targets to increase the reuse of packaging by 2030/2040 in selected sectors, would set, for selected sectors (commercial and industrial packaging, HORECA and grocery/retail), an EU-wide mandatory reuse targets, expressed as a % of product sales/trips using reusable. For each selected sector, there would be one target for 2030 and another one for 2040. To quantify the effect on packaging waste generation, the quantity of packaging waste generated in EU in 2018 is estimated to be 77.8mt as a reference. Relative to the 2030 baseline, the measure achieves a reduction of 4.9%% less than would otherwise have been generated) representing the share of reused packaging of 5.9%. By 2040, this becomes a reduction of 13.3% representing 10.3% product sales/trips in reusable packaging, while the baseline models a decreasing share of reused packaging by 2030.    

M23 Harmonisation of EPR fee modulation criteria in an implementing act    

M29d Mandatory compostability for certain out of the selected plastics packaging types and for the remaining ones and for the remaining ones compostable or conventional plastics possible    

M35em Broad targets for recycled content in plastic packaging based on contact-sensitivity for 2030 and 2040    

M32b Notification of substances of concern in packaging    

M33a Restrictions of substances under REACH    

Ma&b Mandatory DRS and minimum requirements for all DRS    

M12-u Harmonised labelling for reusable packaging    

M38-j Labelling criteria for Recycled Content    

M27c-y Labelling criteria to facilitate consumers´ sorting (advanced Nordic pictograms system)    

M40b Mandatory minimum Green Public Procurement criteria for packaging    

M42b Harmonization of extended producer responsibility reporting system for packaging producer above a threshold    

Measure PCB: Reporting obligation on plastic carrier bags (PCB)    

Measure PP: Mandatory corporate waste prevention plan    

Option 3: Far-reaching targets and legal requirements

M2c Mandatory target of 10% reduction of packaging waste per capita by 2030    

M3 Banning by 2030 of heaviest packaging for selected items based on existing lighter alternatives    

M22c – Quantitative definition of recyclable packaging    

M29b Mandatory compostability for all selected plastics packaging types    

M34b Mandatory reporting requirement for recycled content for all packaging    

M35eh Higher ambition, broad targets for recycled content in plastic packaging based on contact-sensitivity for 2030 and 2040    

M40c Mandatory minimum Green Public Procurement criteria for packaging of all products and services    

M32c Notification of all substances in packaging    

M33b Restrictions of substances under the reviewed PPWD    

M26cc Waste collection targets for certain packaging types    

Mc Prioritized use of recycled packaging from Deposit Return Systems    

8.4.Initial long list of measures

ANNEX 9: measures in each of the policy options

Intervention area Waste Prevention

9.1 Introduction

9.2 Measures analysed in depth and included in the options table

9.2.1. Description of the measure    

9.2.2. Effectiveness    

9.2.3. Ease of implementation    

9.2.4. Administrative burden    

9.2.5. Economic impacts    

9.2.6. Environmental impacts    

9.2.7. Social impacts    

9.2.8. Stakeholder views    

9.3 Measure 2: Mandatory Member State reduction targets

9.3.1 Measures 2b and 2c – Mandatory targets of 19% and 23% reduction of packaging waste per capita in 2030 compared to the baseline

9.3.1.1. Description of the measures    

9.3.2. Measure 2b: Mandatory target of 19% reduction of packaging waste per capita in 2030 compared to the baseline

9.3.2.1. Effectiveness    

9.3.2.2. Ease of implementation    

9.3.2.3. Administrative burden    

9.3.2.4. Economic impacts    

9.3.2.5. Environmental impacts    

9.3.2.6. Social impacts    

9.3.2.7. Stakeholder views    

9.3.3 Measure 2c: Mandatory target of 23% reduction of packaging waste per capita in 2030 compared to the baseline

9.3.3.1. Effectiveness    

9.3.3.2. Ease of implementation    

9.3.3.3. Administrative burden    

9.3.3.4. Economic impacts    

9.3.3.5. Environmental impacts    

9.3.3.6. Social impacts    

9.3.3.7. Stakeholder views    

9.3.4. Measure 3: Best-in-Class weight limits

9.3.4.1. Description of the measure    

9.3.4.2. Effectiveness    

9.3.4.3. Ease of implementation    

9.3.4.4. Administrative burden    

9.3.4.5. Economic Impacts    

9.3.4.6. Environmental impacts    

9.3.4.7. Social impacts    

9.3.4.8. Stakeholder views    

9.4.1. Description of the measure    

9.4.2. Effectiveness    

9.4.3. Ease of implementation    

9.4.4. Administrative burden    

9.4.5. Economic impacts    

9.4.6. Environmental impacts    

9.4.7. Social impacts    

9.4.8. Stakeholder views    

9.5 Measure 7: Phase out Avoidable / Unnecessary Packaging

9.5.1. Description of the measure    

9.5.2. Effectiveness    

9.5.3. Ease of implementation    

9.5.4. Administrative burden    

9.5.5. Economic impacts    

9.5.6. Environmental impacts    

9.5.7. Social impacts    

9.5.8. Stakeholder views    

9.6 Measures that were discarded in an early stage

9.6.1. Measure 2a: Unit weight reduction target    

9.6.2. Measure 4: Pack-to-Product weight ratios    

9.6.3. Measure 6: Eco-modulation to incentivise light-weighting    

9.6.4. Measure 9: Mandatory MS level 'overarching cross-sectoral' reduction targets    

9.6.5. Measure 9a. Target as % of reduction of SU items.    

9.6.6. Measure 9b: Mandatory MS 'overarching cross-sectoral' % reduction targets – General target (kg per person per year) – less ambitious - 5% reduction to be met by reuse.    

9.6.7. Measure 9c Mandatory MS 'overarching cross-sectoral' % reduction targets – General target (kg per person per year) – more ambitious - 10% reduction to be met by reuse.    

Intervention area Prevention and Reuse: measures on Reuse and refill

9.7.1Introduction

Measures included in the options table

9.7.2 Measure 8b: Mandatory reuse and refilling targets for selected packaging groups for 2030/2040 in selected sectors

9.7.3 Measure 8c: Mandatory high level targets to increase the reuse of packaging by 2030/2040 in selected sectors

9.7.4 Measure 10: Standardisation of reusable packaging and effective re-use systems

9.7.4 Assessment of measure 10a: the Commission publishes guidance on implementation of re-use systems that refers to a CEN standard

9.7.4.1. Description of the measure

9.7.4.2. Effectiveness

9.7.4.3. Ease of implementation

9.7.4.4. Administrative burden

9.7.4.5. Economic impacts

9.7.4.6. Social impacts

9.7.4.7. Environmental impacts

9.7.4.8. Stakeholder views

9.8 Assessment of measure 10b: Definitions and mandatory requirements for reusable packaging formats set in EU legislation and standardisation of some reusable packaging formats

9.8.1. Description of the measure

9.8.2. Effectiveness

9.8.3. Ease of implementation

9.8.4. Administrative burden

9.8.5. Economic impacts

9.8.6. Social impacts

9.8.7. Environmental impacts

9.8.8. Stakeholder views

9.9 Measure 10c: Definition and mandatory standards for re-use systems, in terms of incentives, infrastructure, logistics, required reporting set in legislation and standard

9.9.1. Description of the measure

9.9.2. Effectiveness

9.9.3. Ease of implementation

9.9.4. Administrative burden

9.9.5. Economic impacts

9.9.6. Social impacts

9.9.7. Environmental impacts

9.9.8. Stakeholder views

9.10 Measure 19: Harmonisation of when reusable packaging (including returnable transport packaging) is classified as waste

9.10.1. Description of measure

9.10.2. Effectiveness

9.10.3. Ease of implementation

9.10.4. Administrative burden

9.10.5. Economic impacts

9.10.6. Social impacts

9.10.7. Environmental impacts

9.10.8. Stakeholder views

Measures that were discarded

Measure 8a: Voluntary re-use targets (as % product sales/trips in reusable packaging, in number of items), EU level

Measure 8d. Voluntary targets

Measure 8e. Mandate re-use of some tertiary packaging

Measure 8f. Measure Target for re-use of some E-commerce packaging

Measure 8g. Mandating re-use of tertiary packaging within businesses or groups of businesses that constitute closed loops

Measure 8h. Targets for re-use within supply chains or within a specific sector such as the retail sector (whether voluntary or mandatory)

Measure 10d. Guidance on best practise for reusable packaging (issued by informal national or EU level groups)

Measure 11: Business advisory body for reusable products and packaging

Measure 11b. Forum: informal EU or national level groups

Measure 13. Create a single market for reusable packaging

Measure 14a. Updating the essential requirements to better align with the waste hierarchy

Measure 14b. EPR fee modulation for reusable packaging

Measure 14c. Reusable packaging exempt from licensing obligations/EPR fees

Measure 15. Re-use reporting in selected product/packaging groups

Measure 16. Incentives for reusable models

Measure 17. Provision of funding for research and development

Measure 18. Information campaigns on re-use

Measure 20. Reusable tableware mandated in HORECA sector

Intervention area on recyclability and compostable: recyclability

9.11 Introduction

Measures analysed in depth and included in the options table:    

Measures analysed in depth and included in the options table

Measure 21- Updates to the Essential Requirements

Assessment of measure 21a: All packaging shall be reusable or recyclable by 2030

9.11.1 Description of the measure

Assessment of measure 21b: All reusable packaging must be recyclable as of 2030    

Measure 22: Defining recyclable packaging

Assessment of measure 22a: Qualitative definition of recyclable packaging    

9.14.1. Description of the measure    

9.14.2. Effectiveness    

9.14.3. Ease of implementation    

9.14.4 Administrative burden    

9.14.6 Environmental impacts    

9.14.7 Social impacts    

9.14.8. Stakeholder views    

Assessment of measure 22c: Defined quantitatively by minimum recycling rate thresholds    

Summary and conclusion    

Measure 23: Harmonisation of EPR Fee Modulation Criteria    

Measure 22: Defining recyclable packaging Sub-measure 22d: Industry led voluntary design for recycling (DfR) approach    

Measure 24: Defining high quality recycling    

Measure 25: Reducing packaging material complexity    

Measure 26: Updates to recycling targets    

Intervention area on recyclability and compostable

9.16Introduction

Measures analysed in depth and included in the options table

Measure 28: Updates to Standard EN 13432

9.16.1. Description of the measure    

9.16.2. Effectiveness    

9.16.3 Ease of implementation    

9.16.4 Administrative burden    

9.16.5 Economic impacts    

9.16.6 Environmental impacts    

9.16.7 Social impacts    

9.16.8 Stakeholder views    

Measure 29: Criteria prioritising applications for compostable plastics

Assessment of measure 29a: Both compostable and conventional plastics allowed on the market for the applications under consideration    

Assessment of measure 29b: Mandating Compostable Packaging for Specific Applications    

Assessment of measure 29c: Ban on all compostable plastic applications where these do not meet the Recyclability Criteria    

Assessment of measure 29d: Mandatory compostability for certain out of the selected plastics packaging types and for the remaining ones compostable or conventional plastics possible    

Measure 30: Harmonised labelling for compostable plastics

9.18.1. Description of the measure    

9.18.2. Effectiveness    

9.18.3. Ease of implementation    

9.18.4. Administrative burden    

9.18.5. Economic impacts    

9.18.6. Environmental impacts    

9.18.7. Social impacts    

9.18.8. Stakeholder views    

Intervention Area Recycled Content

9.19Introduction

Measures analysed in depth and included in the options table

9.19.1 Description of the measure    

9.19.2 Effectiveness    

9.19.3 Ease of implementation    

9.19.4 Administrative burden    

9.19.5 Economic impacts    

9.19.6 Environmental impacts    

9.19.7 Social impacts    

9.19.8 Stakeholder views    

Measure 34b: Introducing mandatory reporting requirement for recycled content in all packaging

Key problems to address    

9.20.1 Description of measure 34b    

9.20.2 Effectiveness    

9.20.3 Ease of implementation    

9.20.4 Administrative burden    

9.20.5 Economic impacts    

9.20.6 Environmental impacts    

9.20.7 Social impacts    

9.20.8 Stakeholder views    

Measure 35: Mandatory recycled content targets

9.21 Measures 35em Broad targets for recycled content in plastic packaging based on contact-sensitivity for 2030 & 2040 and 35eh Higher ambition, broad targets for recycled content in plastic packaging based on contact-sensitivity for 2030 & 2040    

9.21.1 Description of the measure    

9.21.2 Effectiveness    

9.21.3 Ease of implementation    

9.21.4 Administrative burden    

9.21.5 Economic impacts    

9.21.6 Social Impacts    

9.21.7 Environmental impacts    

9.21.8. Stakeholder views    

Measures analysed in depth but not carried forward to the options table

Assessment of measure 35a: Material-specific target for plastic packaging (same target average across all plastic packaging, applied at brand level)

Description of the measure    

Effectiveness    

Ease of implementation    

Administrative burden    

Economic impacts    

Environmental impacts    

Social impacts    

Stakeholder views    

Description of the measure    

Effectiveness    

Ease of implementation    

Administrative burden    

Economic impacts    

Environmental impacts    

Social impacts    

Stakeholder views    

Description of the measure    

Effectiveness    

Ease of implementation    

Administrative burden    

Economic impacts    

Social Impacts    

Environmental impacts    

Stakeholder views    

Introduction    

Description of the measure    

Effectiveness    

Ease of implementation    

Administrative burden    

Economic impacts    

Social Impacts    

Environmental impacts    

Stakeholder views    

Measures that were discarded in an early stage

Measure 34a: Updates to Essential Requirements operationalised through harmonised standards    

Measure 35d: Mandatory Recycled Content Targets for All Packaging    

Measure 36: Polymer Substitution Quotas    

Measure 39: Harmonisation of EPR Fee Modulation Criteria based on recycled content    

Measures analysed in depth and included in the options table

Measure 32 – Expanding the information base on substances

9.27Measure Ma&b: Mandatory DRS and Minimum Requirements for DRS

9.27.1 Description of the measure    

9.27.1    Effectiveness    

9.27.2    Ease of implementation    

9.27.3    Administrative burden    

9.27.4    Economic impacts    

9.27.5    Environmental impacts    

9.27.6    Social impacts    

9.27.7    Stakeholder views    

9.28Measure Mc: Right to priority access for material collected via DRS

9.28.1    Description of the measure    

9.28.2    Effectiveness    

9.28.3    Ease of implementation    

9.28.4    Administrative burden    

9.28.5    Economic impacts    

9.28.6    Environmental impacts    

9.28.7    Social impacts    

9.28.8    Stakeholder views    

9.29Measure 26cc: Waste collection schemes alternative to DRS

9.29.4. Administrative burden    

9.29.5. Economic impacts    

9.29.6. Environmental impacts    

9.29.7. Social impacts    

9.29.8. Stakeholder views    

Measures analysed in depth and included in the options table

9.30.1. Effectiveness    

9.30.2. Ease of implementation    

9.30.3. Administrative burden    

9.30.4. Economic impacts    

9.30.5. Environmental impacts    

9.30.6. Social impacts    

9.30.7. Stakeholder views    

9.31.1. Description of the measure    

9.31.2. Effectiveness    

9.31.3. Ease of implementation    

9.31.4. Administrative burden    

9.31.5. Economic impacts    

9.31.6. Environmental impacts    

9.31.7. Social impacts    

9.31.8. Stakeholder views    

9.32.1 Description of the measure    

9.32.2. Effectiveness    

9.32.3. Ease of implementation    

9.32.4. Administrative burden    

9.32.5. Economic impacts    

9.32.6. Environmental impacts    

9.32.7. Social impacts    

9.32.8. Stakeholder views    

9.33.1 Description of the measure    

9.33.3. Administrative burden    

9.33.4. Economic impacts    

9.33.5. Environmental impacts    

9.33.6. Social impacts    

9.33.7. Stakeholder views    

9.34Mx “Update of current material-based labelling”: Removal of alphanumeric codes for waste sorters

9.34.1. Description of the measure    

9.34.2. Effectiveness    

9.34.3 Ease of implementation    

9.34.4    Administrative burden    

9.34.5    Economic impacts    

9.34.6    Environmental impacts    

9.34.7    Social impacts    

9.34.8    Stakeholder views    

Intervention Area on Enabling measures - Green Public Procurement

Introduction

Measures analysed in depth and included in the options table

9.35 Measure 40: Mandatory minimum packaging criteria for all product and service areas

Assessment of measure 40 b: Mandatory minimum packaging criteria for priority product and service areas representing high potential for impact: Target (to be defined)

9.35.1 Description of the measure    

9.35.2 Effectiveness    

9.35.3 Ease of implementation    

9.35.4. Administrative burden    

9.35.5. Economic impacts    

9.35.6. Environmental impacts    

9.35.7. Social impacts    

9.35.8. Stakeholder views

Assessment of measure 40 c: Mandatory minimum packaging criteria for all products and service areas

9.36.1 Description of the measure    

9.36.2 Effectiveness    

9.36.3 Ease of implementation    

9.36.4 Administrative burden    

9.36.5 Economic impacts    

9.36.6 Environmental impacts    

9.36.7 Social impacts    

9.36.8 Stakeholder views

Measures that were discarded in an early stage

Measure 41: Environmental award criteria

The aim of this measure is to continue to stimulate supplier innovation in the delivery of high performing packaging solutions, without compromising the ability of certain areas of the market to compete in public tendering processes.

Annex 10 Mass flows

Glossary

Term or acronym

Meaning or definition

CBA

Cost-benefit analysis

CEAP

Circular Economy Action Plan

CO2e

CO2 equivalent

DRS

Deposit Return System

EPR

Extended Producer Responsibility

EPS

Expanded PolyStyrene

FCM

Food Contact Material

FTE

Full Time Employee

GPP

Green Public Procurement

GNI

Gross National Income

k

1000

LCA

Life cycle analysis

LPCBs

Lightweight plastic carrier bags

PCB

Plastic Carrier Bag

PET

Polyethylene terephthalate

PPWD

Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive

SDGs

Sustainable Development Goals

SUPD

Single-Use Plastics Directive

VLPCBs

Very Lightweight Plastic Carrier Bags



Annex 1: Procedural information

1.1.    Lead DG, Decide Planning/CWP references 

The preparation of this file was led by Directorate–General for Environment (ENV). It was included as the following items in the DECIDE/Agenda Planning database: PLAN/2019/5396.

1.2.    Organisation and timing

The initiative is a deliverable under the European Green Deal and was further set out in the Circular Economy Action Plan 1  (CEAP.) The Inception Impact Assessment Roadmap was published on 11 June 2020 with a feedback period until 6 August 2020 2 .

The Inter Service Steering Group (ISSG) for the Impact Assessment included the following DGs and services: Secretariat-General (SG). AGRI (Agriculture), BUDG (Budget), CLIMA (Climate Action), CNECT (Communications Networks, Content and Technology), COMM (Communication), COMP (Competition), DEFIS (Defence Industry and Space), ECFIN (Economic and Financial Affairs), EMPL (Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion), ENER (Energy), ESTAT (Eurostat), FISMA (Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union), I.D.E.A. (Inspire, Debate, Engage and Accelerate Action), INTPA (International Partnerships), JRC (Joint Research Centre), JUST (Justice and Consumers), MARE (Maritime Affairs and Fisheries), MOVE (Mobility and Transport), OLAF (European Anti-Fraud Office), REGIO (Regional and Urban policy), RTD (Research and Innovation), SANTE (Health and Food Safety), SJ (Legal Service), TAXUD (Taxation and Customs Union), TRADE (Trade) as well as EEAS (European External Action Service). Meetings were organised between Summer 2020 and Summer 2022.

The ISSG discussed the Inception Impact Assessment and the main milestones in the process, in particular the consultation strategy and main stakeholder consultation activities, key deliverables from the support study, and the draft Impact Assessment report before the submission to the Regulatory Scrutiny Board.

1.3.    Consultation of the RSB

An informal upstream meeting with the Regulatory Scrutiny Board (RSB) took place on 30 April 2021.

The feedback from this meeting is provided here, but will be deleted and replaced with the opinion after the final discussion with the Inter-Service Group (ISG), a draft of the IA was submitted to the RSB on 13 April 2022 and discussed at a meeting with the RSB on 11 May 2022.

Following the negative opinion of the RSB from 13 May 2022, changes were made to the IA in order to reflect the recommendations of the Board. Table 1-1 presents an overview of the RSB's comments and how these have been addressed, considering changes in the political environment or consultations with the stakeholders and Member States since the initial IA submission.

Table 1: RSB comments to initial IA submission and how they have been addressed

RSB comments

How the comment has been addressed

(1) The report is not sufficiently clear about the remaining gap that the initiative aims to address, given related initiatives and policies (notably, Single Use Plastics Directive (SUPD) and the Plastics Own Resource (POR) covering plastic waste). It is not sufficiently clear how full coherence between these initiatives will be ensured.

Section 1.2 of report has been improved to better explain, which of the problems identified are already addressed with the SUPD, the Waste Framework Directive, the proposal for the new Waste Shipment Regulation and the POR Decision. Moreover, the interface between this initiative and existing, linked legal framework has been refined in Annex 5, examining the legal environment of the initiative. Further, a new section 3.3 contains a gap analysis on plastic packaging with respect to the SUPD and POR. Also, the regulatory failure of the SUPD is explained in section 2.3.

The complementarity between the measures in this initiative and both, the SUPD and the POR rules, is recognised as the latter pursue one common policy objective with the former for some of the packaging (plastic single-use): in particular, reducing the negative impact of single-use plastic packaging, including on the marine environment as a result of littering, and reducing the generation of residual plastic packaging. The report clarifies that the initiative is compliant with the SUPD and POR, and has on top a much broader scope in terms of plastic packaging types and intervention areas.

(2) The report does not sufficiently explain how the proposed change of legal instrument to a Regulation fits with the discretion given to Member States in the Plastics Own Resource to define the most suitable policies to reduce plastic waste in line with the principle of subsidiarity.

The regulatory failure of the current Directive to achieve its own objectives is further refined in the respective sections of the problem definition (chapter 2). Overcoming the vague “essential requirements” established in the Directive with clear and strict rules set out in a Regulation will improve enforceability of the legislation and reduce market fragmentation. National measures, taken to transpose generic ‘essential requirements’ in the Directive related to the design of packaging, or in the absence of harmonising provisions of the EU legislation, for example, on labelling for consumers regarding disposal, have created an uneven regulatory framework, which challenges the integrity of the internal market and results in additional cost for economic operators and the society.

These barriers, which have significantly increased over the last few years, can only be removed by detailed, more harmonised rules, including requirements that apply directly and identically to all economic operators (for instance regarding the process for addressing the recyclability of packaging, recycled content, or labelling). A Regulation would ensure that the obligations are implemented at the same time and in the same way in all the Member States. The legal instrument of a Regulation is the key to the creation of an efficient internal market for high quality secondary materials (new section 5.1).

At the same time, the report highlights, where the Member States have as a matter of subsidiarity competence and leeway to act on their national levels: For instance on the measure with the waste reduction targets imposed on the Member States, it is clarified what is expected to be achieved with the harmonised EU measures and what complementary actions the Member States might take to meet the targets. Another example are compostable plastics: The measure is designed to let the Member States decide on some specific plastic application, if they require compostability based on the local collection and treatment situation for organic waste.

In the batteries sector, which was the first time that the Commission proposed in 2020 to replace a directive by a regulation, this approach has been accepted by the co-legislators in the on-going legislative process. The regulatory objectives and framework for batteries, regulating the full-value-chain, and for the packaging sector are very similar. The logic has also been followed in the recent proposal for the Eco-design for Sustainable Product Regulation.

(3) The report does not elaborate enough the options regarding the main policy choices for decision makers and the content, functioning and practical feasibility of the specific measures. It is not sufficiently clear which decisions will be taken as part of this initiative, which will be subject to implementing legislation and further evidence gathering.

The core measures with the biggest political sensitivity, also considering the outcome of the recent Conference on the Future of Europe, were better highlighted and presented in the option table (section 5.3). Their descriptions and feasibility, including the considerations due to input from Member States and stakeholders, was explained more in detail together with the other impacts in sections 6.1-6.4.

The principal decision to favour high quality recycling over incineration with energy recovery was underpinned by scientific evidence about the resource efficiency and environmental performance of the two alternative waste streams.

Generally, the concrete provisions are meant to be laid down in the Articles and annexes of the main act, as appropriate. In case a specific issue is to be subject of implementing legislation, this is explicitly indicated, including the preparatory works necessary for it.

(4) The report does not sufficiently assess the distributional and overall impacts, in particular on consumers and producers. It is not clear to what extent Member States are affected differently.

The new section 6.5 showcases the distributional effects of the measures with the biggest economic impact from the packaging producers to the consumers, including the waste management sector. Further, the very significant overall savings for the consumers are clearer explained and presented.

The differentiation of impacts between the Member States, if appropriate, is made in the sub-section of the respective measure in 6.1-6.3 and more in detail in the respective Annex 9 document.

The most evident economic impacts are due to the reduction of waste generation. The biggest winners and losers are outlined in section 7.2 and the full list of increased and decreased packaging sales is presented in Annex 9.1

(5) The report does not present the overall costs and benefits of the option packages. It does not provide a clear comparison of options in terms of effectiveness, efficiency/proportionality and coherence. The choice and proportionality of the preferred option is not sufficiently justified.

The new section 6.6 with a ‘Cost benefit analysis of options’ has been added. It presents modelled result by intervention area and by measure where available for the different options. This quantitative comparison of the modelled options is the base for the creation of the preferred policy option in chapter 7, in particular as regards selecting the most proportionate policy choice. This process considered thoroughly the decrease of the marginal environmental benefits and increased economic costs of the more ambitious measures.

The new modelling of option 1 underpins that, without setting ambitious targets and harmonised product requirements, the EU will miss the opportunity to create a waste value chain with savings for the consumers and fail to achieve the Green Deal objectives. The savings in GHG emissions have been put in context and the reduced need for fossil fuel imports has been further elaborated with respect to the war in Ukraine.

Specific effort was undertaken to substantiate effectiveness of the new labelling system: the report contains more evidence underpinning that the consumers are less confused and can sort their waste better with the new labelling scheme. Further, the measure with the labelling of the product packaging has been complemented with a labelling of the waste receptacles with the identical pictograms.

The One In One Out analysis (7.6) of the new harmonised labelling underpins that the estimated EUR 10.3 billion costs for businesses will be by far offset by the expected administrative savings as a result of removal of the diverging national labelling systems.

(6) The report does not present in a systematic and transparent manner the views of stakeholders on the options.

The views of the stakeholders expressed on the inception impact assessment, in the public stakeholder consultation and the specific workshops compiled in Annex 2 were further supplemented. Further, the positions of the stakeholders were more elaborated in the Annex 9 documents containing the detailed measures. Finally, the core elements of the stakeholder positions on the main measures were included in the respective sections 6.1 - 6.4 (impacts).

Stakeholders of different categories, including industry and NGOs, have shown strong support for the general and specific objectives of this initiative and the respective measures with stronger EU intervention and greater harmonisation, to reduce different national approaches and promote circular economy. In this sense, all stakeholders prompted the need to change the legal format of the instrument from the Directive to a Regulation.

The revised report highlights particularly the strong support from different groups of stakeholders (industry, NGOs, Member States) on the need to reduce packaging waste generation, harmonisation of labelling requirements, design for recycling, harmonisation of EPR fee modulation criteria, minimum requirements for deposit and return systems, recycled content targets in plastic packaging, promotion of reuse through better definition and more inclusive approach to different reuse systems and more clarity regarding compostable packaging.

However, certain industry representatives expressed opposition for measures which would imply significant losses of their turn-over (mainly in the intervention area prevention and reuse), while simultaneously challenging the environmental or social benefits of the respective measure. On other measures, such as the product specific recycled content targets in plastics, they raised concerns about the feasibility or proportionality of the measures. The Commission has taken such views into account and refined the measures: for instance, to find a balanced set of targets proposed for reuse in sectors selected based on efficiency criteria, as well as in the reduction of initial number of sectors targeted from 23 to 10 sectors.

The revised Impact Assessment Report and Annexes were resubmitted to the RSB on 12 September 2022 and considered the written comments of the ISG to the draft revised texts received by 31 August 2022. The RSB issued a positive opinion with reservations on 30 September 2022. Table 1-2 presents an overview of the RSB's comments and how these have been addressed in the newly revised Impact Assessment Report and Annexes.

Table 2: RSB comments to the resubmitted IA and how they have been addressed

RSB comments

How the comment has been addressed

(1) The report should more clearly present the challenges related to the internal market and assess them in depth, going beyond the proliferation of national labels. It should better analyse why certain Member States reach their recycling rate targets, while others do not and assess the differences between Member State in terms of packaging waste generation and how this affects fragmentation of the single market. It should better explain and substantiate the scale of the problem of consumer confusion resulting from different packaging labelling across the Member States.

The market failures beyond the mere labelling issue due to the fragmentation of the EU market have been further elaborated in the problem definition and section 7.6.

The differences of the waste management and infrastructure in the Member States, which are mainly a consequence of the national implementation of the waste directives, result in the variety of the respective waste generation levels and recycling rates. The link has been further carved out.

The enhanced confusion of the consumers to properly separate the waste due to the different national labelling schemes has been explained.

(2) The report should explain how the expected impacts of related measures (such as the Single Use Plastics Directive and the Plastics Own Resource) are taken into account in the modelling of the baseline. It should better justify the assumption that the Single Use Plastics Directive will have a low impact on the baseline and clarify how the effects of the Plastics Own Resource drive the baseline modelling.

The baseline assumed the full implementation of the SUPD in all Member States by 2030, e.g. as regards recycled content in plastic bottles or measures to reduce certain plastic packaging. This is adequate even if the report mentions in the problem definitions that many Member States had in 2022 timewise and substantial shortcomings in their implementation. As regards the Own Resource Decision, the modelling of the baseline does not consider impacts on plastic packaging waste because potential instruments under the scope of the ORD are fully under the competence of the Member States and until 2022, no Member State decided to opt for such instruments.

This is clarified in the report.

(3) The report should be clearer on some measures and how they have been reflected in the assessment of the (preferred) option(s). It should provide greater clarity on the role and functioning of potential waste reduction targets for 2035 and 2040, what the evidence base for fixing these targets is and whether alternative targets have been considered. It should be clear whether these targets will be set already in the legislative proposal, and if so, what the additional costs and benefits will be. It should be also clear on which measures greater flexibility will be provided to Member States and present the corresponding rationale in the subsidiarity section. It should be clear which measures will be taken via implementing regulation and on the basis of what analytical evidence base. Finally, the report should consider discarding the option on quantitative definition of recyclable packaging (M22c) upfront, given there seems broad stakeholder consensus that it is not feasible.

The mass flow modelling for the waste reduction targets allows for 2030 to quantify, how the various measures contribute to the targets. The modelling calculated 3 different exogenous targets (0%, 5%, 10%) for the 3 options. The preferred option chose 5% (to be established in the legal text) and its cost benefits have been quantified.

Furthermore, quantitative projections for the waste generation were done for a reduction target of 10% set for 2035 and of 15% for 2040. The disaggregation of these amounts over the various supporting measures was not possible for these years due to methodological reasons.

The report now clearly distinguishes between EU harmonised measures and those that can be implemented by the Member States in line with the subsidiarity principle and internal market rules. Also, the report clarifies, what should be established in primary and what in secondary legislation.

The report is now clear on all the measures included in the preferred option.

Measure 22c (quantitative definition of recyclable packaging) had been assessed and subsequently discarded, i.e. not included into the preferred option. The respective stakeholder positions have been considered during the assessment.

(4) The preferred option 2 plus (which is a combination of measures of options 2 and 3) should be identified, assessed, and compared upfront to allow decision makers fully informed decisions based on all costs and benefits of the four options.

The report developed 3 options and compared it with the baseline. After the comprehensive modelling of the 3 options, the preferred option 2+ was designed by integrating one measure of option 3 into the preferred option (M26cc was merged with Ma&b). Further refinements of Option 2 were made with respect to improve enforceability and feasibility, and to apply the subsidiarity principle. These adjustments of Option 2 should not have significant changes to the quantitative outcome of the modelling.

(5) While the revised report is now clearer on the distributional transfers, in particular between single-use packaging producers and consumers, this is not adequately reflected in the cost-benefit analysis (and subsequent comparison of options in terms of effectiveness and efficiency). The analysis and overview tables must be clear how the substantial packaging producer sales revenue losses and the consumer savings have been reflected in the costs and benefits estimates of the economic impact assessment. In presentational terms, the report should present both the costs and benefits in a clear way to allow easy calculation of net benefits or costs (and related benefit-cost ratios).

Tables 7 and 8 have been revised to be clear how the substantial packaging producer sales revenue losses and the consumer savings have been reflected in the costs and benefits estimates of the economic impact assessment. An explanation has been added in section 6.6 and in Annex 4.

Cost-benefit ratios have been made explicit in section 6.6

(6) The report should be clearer on the net impact on employment, including by adding further detail on the methodology and providing monetised estimates of expected additional jobs. It should explain how the employment impacts are reflected in the cost- benefit and efficiency analysis.

The methodology for assessing the net impact on employment, and reasons for not providing monetised estimates of expected additional jobs are set out in Annex 4 and in section 6.6

(7) On the basis of a complete cost-benefit analysis of the four main policy options, the report should further develop the comparison of the policy option section, by being more explicit on how effective the options are in delivering on the three specific objectives and by reviewing some of the efficiency scores. For example, it is not clear why the scoring of efficiency of the (low-cost) option 1 performs less well when compared to efficiency scoring of the more costly and difficult to implement options.

The comparison of options has been revisited and Table 9 revised with more consistent scoring to improve clarity. Explanations have been strengthened

(8) Based on a more complete cost-benefit analysis and a reinforced comparison of options, the report should strengthen the proportionality assessment of options and the choice of the preferred option (including all the measures where the report remains vague on their final inclusion).

The comparison of options has been revisited and Table 9 revised. The composition of the preferred option package has been further explained and all the measures contained in the preferred option package have been listed in section 7.1

(9) The report should provide further clarification of the administrative costs for the One In, One Out approach. It should be clearer on the underlying assumptions and how the costs were calculated.

Further clarification of the administrative costs for the One In, One Out approach have been provided including in section 7.6

(10) The presentation of costs and benefits in [annexes 3 and 9 and the executive summary,] should be fully aligned with the revised cost-benefit analysis, including full reporting of the savings and costs related to the One In, One Out approach.

Clarification and alignment of the costs has been made

1.4.    Evidence, sources and quality

To support the analysis of the different options, the European Commission awarded a support contract to external experts - Eunomia (Consortium Lead) with Arcadis, Milieu, and COWI.

These experts worked in close cooperation with the European Commission throughout the different phases of the study.



Annex 2: Stakeholder consultation

The Impact Assessment accompanying the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive 94/62/EC was subject to a thorough consultation of stakeholders to ensure that views from different organisation were presented and considered.

In total, over 800 unique organisations were engaged with more than 1,800 contact points. Stakeholders were consulted through a combination of both public and targeted methods: inception feedback, public questionnaire, Member State questionnaire, online workshops and webinars, and one-to-one interviews.

These activities included a period during which it was possible to provide feedback on an Inception Impact Assessment (110 responses) and an Open Public Consultation 3  (425 responses). In addition, a targeted consultation exercise was carried out to further enhance the evidence base through the collection of more specialized feedback from targeted stakeholder groups. This was done, among others, via the organisation of several stakeholder workshops throughout the process. In June 2021, 6 stakeholder webinars took place presenting interim results of the study followed by the possibility to send feedback. More than 950 persons (250 organisations) participated in these webinars and almost 100 organisations provided detailed feedback and position papers. An additional workshop took place on 30th May 2022 with 517 attendees and 50 stakeholders intervened. In addition, both the consultant and the Commission services have carried out further targeted consultations with Member State experts, stakeholders, NGOs and consumers’ associations.

This synopsis report presents a summary of these consultation activities and their results.

2.1. Feedback on the inception impact assessment

In the context of the preparation of the Impact Assessment, an open public consultation was accessible to the public for 12 weeks from 11 June 2020 to 06 August 2020. During this time, the survey received 110 responses.

As outlined in the Inception Impact Assessment, the project roadmap was published on the Commission’s website 4 . For each section, a brief overview was provided to inform citizens and stakeholders of the planned impact assessment and to allow them to provide feedback at an early stage. Of the 110 respondents, 80 (73%) were business associations or company/business organisations, 12 (11%) were non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and the remaining 16% was made up of a variety of stakeholder groups including public authorities, EU citizens, and consumer organisations (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Valid feedback instances by stakeholder group

Looking at the countries of the respondents, Belgium had by far the biggest share with 34 (31%). They were followed by Germany with 19 (17%) and Netherlands with 11 (10%). In total, 19 countries responded to the IIA, of which 17 were in the EU and the remaining 2 were the UK and the US.

Summary of responses to the survey:

2.1.1.Prevention

Stakeholders mostly agreed on the need to introduce new measures to prevent packaging waste, to ensure that packaging is only used when strictly necessary and to reduce the use of secondary packaging.

NGOs were the most active on these prevention issues saying that it it was important to minimise the use of plastics in packaging, while plastics representative asked not to compromise the functionality of the packaging as changes in packaging could affect its quality and safety.

A general support was expressed on the need to set waste prevention and reduction targets with targets that respect the waste hierarchy. A difference of position within the industry was noted on the question if targets should be based on the total number of single-use units (and/or kg of packaging per person per year) or if specific targets should be set for major materials, product groups or sectors. Industry expressed expectation that the targets are not overly prescriptive on the means and inhibit innovation and do not lead to the replacement of certain materials with others that have a higher environmental impact. Industry also expressed concern about life cycle analyses and the need to assess any packaging reduction targets or measures with possible increase of food waste.

A broad support was expressed on the necessity to clearly define - with established criteria - the concepts of "underpackaging" and "overpackaging".

 

2.1.2.Reuse

If most stakeholders supported to increase reusable packaging systems, industry emphasised that reuse should only be introduced when environmentally and economically feasible and highlighted the role of consumer engagement. They also called for a "transition phase" to adapt and respect existing complexities in supply chains.

Representative of food packaging users raised concerns on food hygiene and safety risks, correlation with food waste, need to take into account that under some circumstances recyclable packaging is environmentally preferable to reusable packaging, setting reuse targets for "transport packaging" that would risk including packaging, which is already highly recycled, and overly stringent requirements for cosmetic products.

2.1.3.Recyclability

Overall, there was a strong support for all packaging to be reusable or recyclable. The main issues raised were R&D, labelling, and minimum quality standards.

Most stakeholders called for packaging design obligations, design for recycling (DfR) guidelines and incentives through eco-modulation of EPR fees. Representative of downstream value chain called for a reduction in the complexity of packaging materials and the use of standardized packaging to improve recyclability. Packaging designers and users also spoke of the need to harmonise collection systems and increase collection rates to improve the quality of recyclates. Many stakeholders – notably NGOS- pointed out that deposit-refund systems (DRS) were an effective way to achieve this ambition.

A broad support was expressed for a clear and harmonised definition of "recyclable packaging" (but any definition should be reviewed regularly to reflect technological change) and the use of appropriate labelling measures to improve the recyclability of packaging. The introduction of minimum quality standards for recyclates has been quite widely supported.

Concerns has been raised by industry about possible trade-offs such as increased packaging waste generation, increase in food waste, impact on the health and safety and packaging functionality, and the cost of manufacturing of new (less complex) packaging.

2.1.4.Compostability

The increased use of compostable packaging has been widely supported, but it needs to be assessed in terms of its carbon footprint and circularity potential. It also needs to be accompanied by clear, standardised and technology-neutral definitions of biodegradability and compostability of packaging.

Most stakeholders requested that a clear distinction be made between biobased plastics and biodegradable plastics, and between biodegradability and compostability, noting that some biobased plastics do not biodegrade in biowaste treatment plants and none biodegrade completely in the natural environment.

2.1.5.Recycled Content

Stakeholders broadly supported the need to increase recycled content in packaging, but expressed differing views on how to achieve this and the extent of government intervention required. Discussions focused on whether a voluntary approach or mandatory requirements should be used, and whether/which chemically recycled raw materials should be included in the recycled content. There was also a call for increased support for recycled plastics when virgin material prices are low due to the collapse in crude oil prices. Stakeholders recognized that the price of food grade r-PET should be decoupled from oil prices by setting clear targets for recycled content in new products

Stakeholders involved in food and beverage expressed the need to modify food contact provisions (i.e. this should facilitate the increase of secondary materials while maintaining consumer safety) and to take into account the safety requirements of certain categories of consumer goods (e.g., cosmetics) as well as the availability of secondary materials when setting any recycled content targets.

2.1.7.Green Public Procurement

A number of stakeholders highlighted GPP as an important method for improving demand for sustainable packaging and creating a new market for recycled plastics. GPP can play an important role in stimulating markets for secondary raw materials and help accelerate the use of sustainable packaging.

2.1.8.Data, Reporting and Implementation

Most stakeholders supported harmonised approaches and stressed the importance of not restricting the smooth functioning of the single market as national legislation can have distorting effects. Stakeholders also called for the free movement of packaging across borders, the removal of barriers and the prevention of fragmentation of the single market, and the establishment of harmonised rules.

A large majority of stakeholders called for further harmonisation of EPR systems at EU level, improved control of packaging as well as increased sharing of information on best practices between Member States. Stakeholders also stressed the importance of setting clear targets and deadlines for implementation. The industry argued that targets and goals should avoid being overly prescriptive as to how they are to be achieved, and that appropriate transition periods should be set for any new measures. Finally, effective and harmonised "end-of-waste" criteria are needed to provide reassurance about the use of recyclates.

2.1.9.Hazardousness

Stakeholders widely agreed that reducing and eliminating the hazardousness and toxicity of packaging is a key priority.

One participant from the industry stated that the long-term policy goal should be to achieve toxic-free material cycles, starting with the product design phase, and called for chemical traceability of plastic packaging, with clear rules and better information for waste management operators on the chemicals in products. An NGO called for stricter standards on the presence of hazardous chemicals in the recycling process, for the creation of a safe framework for the packaging of dangerous goods, including an EU-wide uniform procedure (quality standards) and for a reduction of the use of fluorinated chemicals in the PPWD or in the next revision of the Food Contact Materials Regulation.

2.2.    Open public consultation

Published on the Commission’s website , the questionnaire received 425 responses. The responses were generally positive. Comments expressed support for efforts to tackle the problems of packaging and packaging waste (Figure 2).

Participants responded mainly on behalf of a company (31%) and trade association (27%), as a European citizen (28%), and then on behalf of an academic/research institution, environmental/non-governmental consumer organisation, public authority (15%). With regard to the sector of activity, packaging material manufacturers and packaging manufacturers represent 18% and 16% of participants, followed by the recycling sector (12%). 33% and 30% of participants represented micro (1-9 employees) and large (+250) organisations, followed by 21% for small (10-49 employees) and 16% for medium (50-259 employees) organisations. 33 countries were represented, including 24 Member States (except Croatia, Cyprus and Malta). Germany (20%) and Belgium (19.1%) were particularly well represented, ahead of Italy (9.6%), France (6.4%) and Austria (5.4%).

Figure 2: Summary of responses to the questionnaire by intervention area and questions asked

Question: What is your area of activity/what is the sector whose interests you represent when responding to the questionnaire?

Question: I am giving my contribution

2.2.1.Waste Prevention

Overall, many participants – especially NGOs - stressed that packaging waste prevention should not be compromised for the sake of weight reduction. Industry recalled that packaging is used for protection, communication, health and safety and called for clear guidance on packaging reduction and for definitions of "excessive" packaging before introducing bans and targets.

On "Definitions," most participants suggested the need for clear definitions of "overpackaging" and "underpackaging."

Considering "Avoidable Packaging", many participants supported a ban on products with non-functional and avoidable packaging, believing that too much packaging is used in the EU (68% of respondents). Blister packs, containers designed not to be filled and some food packaging were cited as examples. Products considered to have (way) too much packaging are electronic products (81%) children's toys (79%) and cosmetics (76%). 82% of participants believe that there is too much packaging used for online shopping.

Regarding "Restrictions and bans", 55% of participants agree that there should be EU-wide bans on packaging that is not necessary to protect the product or ensure hygiene. In addition, 69% believe that there should be EU-wide targets for Member States to reduce or limit the production of packaging waste. Several brands have put forward internal targets to reduce excessive packaging in the short term.

On "Dimensional limits and fixed ratios," 68% of participants felt that there should be such dimensional limits for packaging used for online delivery of goods to minimise unnecessary space. 65% agreed that they would be an effective way to reduce packaging waste and 73% felt that it would improve packaging design. Outside of e-commerce, fixed ratios for other applications were widely seen as an inappropriate solution for reducing packaging.

2.2.2.Reuse

Most stakeholders agree on the need to harmonise definitions, standards, and guidance for reuse. In line with the waste hierarchy, NGOs stressed that reuse should always be the first option. Industry (e.g. paper/cardboard packaging representatives) expressed concern that reusable products in some cases resulted in higher overall environmental impacts.

As regards the "Attitudes toward reuse", 60% of respondents currently use reusable packaging. The most popular reusable product is the refillable water bottle, used daily by 58% of respondents. 68% agreed that they would be willing to bring their own reusable packaging to the store. Several participants also noted that reusable packaging is not always optimal, that it needs to be convenient and that consumers need more information about reuse systems. Participants expressed concerns about health and safety, lack of access to stores that accept reusable packaging, and disadvantages compared to single-use solutions.

Considering the "Future Use of Reusable Packaging," 76% of stakeholders agreed that reusable packaging should be promoted wherever logistically possible. 87% agreed that there should be a requirement for clear labeling of all reusable packaging. Standardisation of reusable packaging formats, the introduction of quantitative reuse targets at national and international level, and support for reusable packaging through tax relief were measures recommended in the comments. Participants also stressed the need to support any decision to use reusable packaging with life cycle analysis data.

2.2.3.Recyclability

There was broad support for increasing the recyclability of packaging, including the need for harmonised definitions and complementary approaches to increase recycling rates (e.g., simplified packaging, innovative technologies, consumer education. There was strong support for all packaging to be recyclable. 97% agreed or strongly agreed with the goal of increasing the recyclability of packaging.

Many participants mentioned the need to harmonise definitions of what constitutes recyclable packaging across the EU, and that these definitions should be technology neutral to avoid favoring or excluding certain processes.

Opinions expressed on "packaging complexity" raised the topic of reducing the number of polymers in packaging and/or simplifying designs to increase recycling. Responses were mixed, with some participants supporting this concept and others from the plastic industry raising issues with seeking to limit the number of polymers.

With regard to "recyclate", a few participants noted a need for clarity in the difference between recycling technologies that can maintain the value of the material and those that result in downgrading.

Responses on "labelling" broadly stressed the need for its harmonisation across the EU to help increase collection/sorting. 85% of the responses agreed or strongly agreed with the need to require that all recyclable packaging be clearly labelled as recyclable. 84% stated that recyclability labelling could improve packaging design and/or reduce negative environmental impacts while maintaining acceptable costs. Because waste management practices differ among member states, participants noted that recycling rates may not increase across Europe even if labelling were harmonised.

On the issue of "consumer influence," it was emphasised that recyclability depends on the ability of consumers to correctly identify recyclable materials, separate them, and sort them into the appropriate waste streams.

2.2.4.Compostability

The need to update the compostable material standards was identified to take into account composting conditions. Opinions were very divided, with a number of bioplastics producers campaigning to prevent blanket bans;

Most of the opinions expressed on compostable packaging were split between compostable product manufacturers supporting their use and waste treatment companies expressing concern. When asked to express whether they felt that biodegradable/compostable plastic packaging was better for the environment than buying packaging made from conventional plastic (question 4), 47% of stakeholders disagreed, versus 33% who agreed.

Many stressed the need for compostability standards. One stakeholder suggested that the existing EN 13432 standard be revised. Nearly 90% of participants felt that updating EN13452 to further specify criteria for compostable and biodegradable packaging, including composting conditions, would be an efficient and effective way to improve packaging design. 97% of stakeholders agreed with the objective of developing definitions for biodegradable and compostable packaging and harmonising the labelling of biodegradable and compostable packaging.

Stakeholders considered applications where the packaging could end up in food waste (e.g. tea bags) and those that could facilitate organic waste collection (e.g. disposable coffee pods) to be the most efficient and effective. One participant representative of the packaging industry added that organic waste accounts for over 50% of municipal solid waste and that compostable packaging can be collected together and processed accordingly.

A number of stakeholders – notably the recycling industry - indicated that biodegradable/compostable packaging can be a good choice when end-of-life conditions are met and that "compostable" materials were rarely compostable at home ( i.e. it requires specific processing conditions). Participants drew attention to the composting infrastructure in Italy, suggesting that compostable packaging could be a good choice if similar processes were introduced in the rest of the EU. Some participants raised the point that some biodegradable and compostable materials can have a negative effect on biowaste by misleading consumers and unintentionally encouraging littering since they are not recyclable.

2.2.5.Recycled content

Responses were largely in favour of increasing the recycled content of packaging. Despite this, a number of stakeholders expressed concern about increasing the use of recyclate. 73% of participants agreed or strongly agreed that the packaging with the highest recycled content should be chosen when a product has multiple packaging options. 80% agreed or strongly agreed with the objective of increasing the level of recycled content in packaging.

However, several stakeholders – mainly the food and beverage industry - expressed concern about the introduction of minimum recycled content targets. Several participants from the plastic industry pointed out that food contact applications could not use most recycled polymers, and that mandatory targets could favour some industries over others and distort the market. It was suggested that some products should be exempt from using recycled content if safety could be compromised (e.g. food or pharmaceuticals).

As for additional measures at the EU level to help increase the recycled content of packaging, suggestions included incentivizing recycled content rather than making its use mandatory, setting ambitious minimum recycled content targets for packaging, and establishing European standards for recycled plastic.

2.2.6.Data and implementation

Most of the suggestions concerned the introduction of taxes for those who do not comply with mandatory targets or bans. Almost all stakeholders agreed that enforcement mechanisms should be effective, but should also minimise the administrative burden.

Responses regarding "single-use packaging taxes" were particularly polarised. 45% of participants agreed with introducing such taxes in their country, and 45% were opposed. Comments suggested that tax breaks should encourage the more sustainable option rather than penalize the less sustainable. It was also suggested that taxes and fees collected for unsustainable packaging should be used to build better recycling and reuse infrastructure.

On "bans and targets", 69% of participants agreed that the EU should set targets for member states to reduce or limit the production of packaging waste. 55% agreed that the EU should impose restrictions or bans on packaging when it is not necessary to protect the product or ensure hygiene.

The appropriateness of implementing "National Packaging registries " revealed different viewsas such registries are considered to be an appropriate and effective method of controlling packaging use but concerned were also expressed that it might disclose confidential information. Some participants insisted that any new packaging register at EU level should be compatible with existing registers.

On the issue of "Extended Producer Responsibility", it was pointed out that the administrative costs associated with proper membership of an EPR system and product registration can far exceed the cost of end-of-life treatment for small businesses.

2.2.7.Green Public Procurement (GPP)

The introduction of mandatory GPP criteria related to minimum levels of recycled content in packaging was deemed an effective and efficient method by 71% of stakeholders.

Similarly, the introduction of mandatory GPP criteria to require the use of reusable options for specific purposes in the public sector (e.g. drinking water) was viewed positively by 69%. It was emphasised that the criteria must be feasible and harmonised across the EU, considering that it would be impossible for manufacturers to comply if the criteria varied from one member state to another. It was also suggested that the use of bio-based and/or compostable packaging should be included in green public procurement.

2.3.    Stakeholder workshops

Between 15 and 24 June 2021, six dedicated workshops were organised on different topics. A seventh workshop dedicated to Member States took place on 30 July 2021. An additional workshop took place on 30th May 2022.

The workshops were widely attended by participants from a number of different stakeholder groups, including business associations, company/business organisation representatives, academics, NGOs, environmental and social organisations, as well as Member State representatives. A summary of each workshops/intervention areas is provided below, knowing that the discussions dedicated to GPP, enforcement, hazardous substances was organised during the same workshop.

2.2.8.Workshop of June 2021

Summary of discussions by proposed measures in each intervention area:

Waste prevention

Clear definitions of over-packaging and under-packaging were requested as a matter of priority in Measure 1 (Update of Essential Requirements to minimize over-packaging).

Regarding the setting of targets (Mandatory target of 19% reduction of packaging waste per capita in 2030 - Measure 2), opinions are very diverse: some stakeholders consider them too high and others too low. There are also different views on materials and whether the target should be increased for materials that are difficult to collect and recycle, such as plastics. Stakeholders are concerned that Member States will differ in the setting of their targets and/or in the measures to achieve them, which would create tensions in the single market. Industry felt that voluntary actions should be considered instead.

Several stakeholders supported weight limits (Measure 3 Banning by 2030 of heaviest packaging for selected items based on existing lighter alternatives) and some even said that it could be extended to other major types of packaging. Others stressed the need for clear definition of categories.

Some stakeholders support the measure on empty space in packaging (Measure 5). Others oppose it because it might require customised packaging, which could disproportionately target small businesses. Some participants felt that EPR fees are the most cost-effective way to combat over-packaging, and that additional measures should be taken to ensure that all e-commerce organisations participate in EPR programmes. Industry was concerned about a potential lack of support for SMEs to adapt to these measures.

Reuse

Most stakeholders were in favour of some form of bottom-up reuse target (Measure 8 - Mandatory reuse targets for selected packaging groups for 2030/2040 in selected sectors). A few participants from the industry preferred voluntary targets while reuse systems are still being developed and more research is being carried out on appropriate formats, infrastructure and investment needs. A larger number – supported by NGO - argued for mandatory targets, in order to ensure security of investment and to avoid undermining the single market through heterogeneous national implementation. Many industry stakeholders expressed the need for more research and data collection before making targets mandatory, ideally on a case-by-case basis for each product category. In addition, food and drink industry stakeholders are very concerned that the specificity of their sector's products has not been sufficiently taken into account.

Many stakeholders are concerned that top-down national reduction targets (Measure 9) are too general. Any such measure would require harmonisation and should go hand in hand with recyclability and recycled content requirements for reusable packaging.

The standardisation of reusable packaging (Measure 10 - Revision of CEN standard for defining reusable packaging) is widely supported, provided that it takes into account current standards (e.g. for safety and hygiene) and reusable formats already in use, and that it allows for regional variability according to consumer preferences. While industry stakeholders do not want a standard that is too prescriptive to allow for innovation and competition, NGOs argue for a detailed standard that aims to standardise and simplify packaging and harmonise systems between operators. Two criteria stand out as important: the recyclability of reusable packaging and the minimum number of rotations required. Standardisation of sizes was the most controversial proposal, particularly for the food and drink industry, which feared it would reduce the variety of packaging needed to meet the quality and performance requirements of their products. There was general agreement that such standards should be considered on a case-by-case basis, depending on the sector and the type of reuse. However, stakeholders from Member States pointed out that standards on reusable packaging for food and beverages are already being developed (e.g. France and Germany). Standardisation of reuse systems is rather supported by representatives of the reusable transport packaging industry as it would give legal certainty and confidence to invest in such systems.

There was broad support for the creation of a Business Advisory Body (Measure 11), but opinions were divided on the role of such a body. The consensus was that it should serve to coordinate the development of reusable packaging systems, share best practice, monitor and report on reuse, and provide strategic guidance. Several stakeholders stressed that it should not create an additional administrative burden for businesses and that its financing should be carefully considered. There were different views on whether it should operate at national or European level. It should be fully independent and include representatives from all sectors: packaging and materials industry, national authorities and PROs, consumer representatives and retailers.

The idea of harmonised labelling for reusable packaging (measure 12) is generally supported but should be kept simple so as not to overload packaging with information and confuse consumers. Opinions are divided on the criteria to be included in the labelling. The dematerialisation of information is particularly supported. Transferring most of the information online and off the label (e.g. via QR codes) could be a good way to cope with the amount of information to be transmitted. Any standardisation of labelling would need to take into account labelling initiatives already underway (e.g. in France and Germany, or Nestlé's eco-labelling trial from autumn 2021). And it will require extensive awareness campaigns and consumer engagement.

Recyclability

Stakeholders broadly support the updates to the Essential Requirements (Measure 21), although there is some debate about the scope of what is included in recycling (i.e. chemicals or compostables as organic recycling). There was broad support for the removal of 'energy recovery', but some fear unintended consequences, such as increased landfill. The wood sector also indicated that the "best" end-of-life for wood could be energy recovery. Some packaging producers argued that non-recyclable reusable packaging should be allowed on the market provided that reuse is proven and the environmental impacts are lower than for single-use packaging. The qualitative definition was widely supported over the quantitative definition. Many questioned where the key terms should be defined (i.e. in the legislation or in the implementing act). Some representatives of the chemical recycling argued for technological "neutrality" to give chemical recycling the same status as mechanical recycling.. The need for a system for a proper review of these guidelines, a pan-European body, was also stressed. There were differing views on how often they should be reviewed - some said annually. Finally, there was a call to ensure that the DfR promotes existing recycling technologies.

A broad consensus was expressed on the usefulness of harmonising EPR fee modulation criteria in an implementing act (Measure 23), with the exception of the pharmaceutical industry that fears being penalised.

The harmonisation of labelling requirements (Measure 27) was also strongly supported, particularly on sorting instructions to strengthen the functioning of the single market and reduce consumer confusion. However, most of stakeholders recognise the lack of harmonisation of collection systems between and within Member States, and therefore propose a digital label referring to local instructions. In all cases, the digitalisation of information was clearly supported, as well as the desire for a language-neutral system: logos, pictograms or codes for material components.

Compostable packaging

A strong support for an updated and harmonised definition of compostable and biodegradable (updates to standard EN13432 - Measure 28) was expressed. Most stakeholders agreed with a revision of the standard that takes into account the latest technological developments and best practices. They mentioned the problem of cross-contamination and consumer confusion.

Some stakeholders support the measure (criteria for compostable packaging - Measure 29) as they believe it will lead to a higher quality compostable material stream and less contamination by conventional plastics. Many opposed it for several reasons, considering it discriminatory and disproportionate, or that the exceptions would confuse customers who should instead have alternatives for reuse.

Strong support was expressed for harmonised labelling for compostable packaging (Measure 30), but it should be specifically mentioned whether the packaging is suitable for industrial or domestic composting given the current confusion and divergent practices. In addition, it was requested to specify that the packaging is not suitable for plastic recycling, in order to avoid contamination. Several stakeholders agreed with the message "do not litter" to avoid confusion among consumers. Some stakeholders expressed their recommendations for digital watermarking solutions and/or any type of technological solutions. Some expressed concerns about the availability of space on labels to include additional messages. Opinions differed on the question "is composting recycling or is recycling superior than composting". Some stakeholders felt that composting should be considered organic recycling and be placed at the same level as mechanical recycling in the waste hierarchy.

Hazardous substances

In general, many stakeholders believe that issues relating to hazardous substances in packaging should be addressed through REACH, the EU Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability and the Food Contact Materials (FCM) Regulations. They consider that there is a risk of duplication of policies if they are addressed through the PPWD and argue that the PPWD is not the appropriate legislative tool in this area. Some stakeholders asked for a clear reference to the Food Contact Materials (FCM) legislation, with some even suggesting that it should be clear that the FCM takes precedence over the PPWD.

Several stakeholders agree that the definition of PPWD should be aligned with REACH to facilitate compliance (Update of definitions concerning hazardous substance - Measure 31). One notable exception is that PPWD should only refer to substances in packaging and not to general lists of substances not fully applicable to packaging.

The majority of stakeholders are in favour of expanding the information base on substance of concern in packaging (Measure 32), but strongly oppose restrictions under the reviewed PPWD and ask to leave this task to ECHA (restriction of substances in packaging under the PPWD - Measure 33).

Recycled content

With regard to the proposal for a new Essential Requirement for recycled content (Measure 34), there are concerns about the availability of quality recycled materials on the market. Adequate investments need to be made to ensure that the quantity and quality of recycled materials available are sufficient. In addition, the quality of the product itself should not be affected by the use of recycled materials. It is suggested that for certain applications with strict requirements (food or pharmaceutical sector), recycled content targets should be lower, not mandatory, or products should be exempted altogether. A stakeholder suggested that bio-based alternatives should be considered as a substitute for recycled content, as mechanical recycling of plastics can rarely meet the requirements. It was also suggested that the targets should take into account new technologies such as chemical recycling, including clarifying the regulations on whether chemical recycling can be counted towards the targets. It was discussed that the complexity of supply chains varies from material to material. The issue of specific EPR systems that do not exist in most countries for packaging was raised. Adequate waste collection and sorting infrastructure is also needed in all countries. Some stakeholders are concerned that targets as an essential requirement could lead to the banning of certain products.

Regarding recycled content targets - (Measure 35 - Broad targets for recycled content in plastic packaging based on contact-sensitivity for 2030 and 2040), there is more support for bottom-up targets than top-down targets, but many stakeholders have identified problems with both methods. For top-down targets, there is concern that they could disadvantage producers of specialised materials such as food contact or pharmaceutical applications. For bottom-up targets, there is concern about the demand for quality recycled materials. Secondary raw materials should also be more expensive where the infrastructure is underdeveloped and there is not enough to meet demand. SMEs that only produce food packaging may suffer, as they will not be able to make up their quota with non-food applications (which have less stringent quality and functionality requirements). Some stakeholders of medical or pharmaceutical sectors have raised similar issues for their packaging, where there are also strict quality and safety requirements. More recycling capacity and investment is considered to be needed. Stakeholders also indicated that it was important to define whether pre- and post-consumer waste would be included in the definition of "recyclates". Some participants from the plastic industry argued that recycled content targets targeting only plastics would be discriminatory and should also be set in other material categories. Others (e.g. representative of glass or paper/cardboard) are satisfied that the recycled content target does not extend to other material categories, in particular glass (because the increase in average recycled content is directly linked to the availability of more and better recycled glass) and paper/cardboard (because the paper recycling market is working well and the introduction of mandatory requirements could cause disruption).

Stakeholders strongly supported measure 37 (EPR fee modulation in recycled content), arguing that a harmonised definition and calculation is essential to create a level playing field and avoid fragmentation of the single market. The inclusion of chemical recycling was hotly debated. The industry stated that recycled content targets could not be determined until the methodology was defined. Finally, while some stakeholders were in favour of the implementing act, others felt that all definitions should be included in the Directive.

Green Public Procurement

Many stakeholders supported mandatory minimum packaging criteria in GPP (Measure 40)but stressing the need for certain exceptions, so as not to restrict the ability to set more ambitious sustainability requirements where they so wish.

There was general agreement that any environmental award criteria (Measure 41) should address the whole life cycle of the product (not just waste) and must be aligned with existing standards/labels that demonstrate environmental performance (e.g. eco-labelling schemes).

Data and implementation

The harmonisation of EPR reporting between Member States via a database (Measure 42) is almost unanimously supported, provided that it does not lead to a disproportionate increase in administrative burden.

The reinforcement of the role of the Market Surveillance Authorities to ensure enforcement of internal market packaging "product" rules (Measure 45) received unanimous support from stakeholders, who also called for adequate resources to be made available to Member States' enforcement authorities. Several comments were made on the implementation of the legislation by the Member States. Particular attention was given to imports, which should be subject to the same measures.

2.2.9.Workshop of May 2022

The workshop took place on Monday, 30th May. A total of 50 stakeholders intervened and were mostly EU-wide organisations, with 5 stakeholders representing national or regional organisations: France, Benelux, 2 x Germany, Benelux and Portugal

Recyclability

While NGOs have expressed support that investment in recycling capacity will help meet the targets, many industry stakeholders have expressed concern that the 95% recyclability threshold is unattainable. It is suggested that the 95% threshold be assessed by reference to best available techniques for collection, sorting and recycling (and to ensure that they are available throughout the EU).

A balance between weight and recycled content and recyclability was also particularly requested.

On the qualitative and functional definition of recyclability, support was given to a qualitative and functional definition of recyclability per unit of packaging, as well as specific and material neutral.

Industry was concerned that the negative list would contradict sectoral guidance, as some materials are recyclable with specific processes but not with standard processes.

There was clear support for clear limits for hazardous chemicals or a general ban on substances of very high concern, but there should be a distinction between chemicals that are hazardous but transformed into non-hazardous substances during manufacturing and hazardous chemicals in packaging.

There was strong support for mandatory collection to promote recyclability at scale and closed-loop circular economy systems.

Legislation

There is broad support for translating the directive into a regulation to promote harmonization.

A consistent approach to packaging legislation with other legislation (e.g. SUPD, Food Contact Directive, Waste Shipment Regulation...) and products from third countries is requested.

Industry stressed that it is very likely that Member States cannot implement higher individual reduction targets.

Reuse

A broad definition of reuse was supported to promote innovation and incentivize reduction.

NGOs supported a strong definition of reuse that would include definitions of measures for waste prevention and packaging reuse, such as reduction, a broad scope including disposable cups, collection infrastructure, reverse logistics, incentives to return packaging, and minimum rotations and requirements for a well managed system.

Some industry representatives, such as cosmetics, supported reuse targets by product and not by sector. In case of a sector-specific target, it was requested to rigorously target the sectors that would be affected.

Industry strongly supported a life cycle assessment (LCA) to evaluate reuse targets and ensure that there is no increased environmental, financial or administrative burden.

Some stakeholders - including NGOs - have argued that countries should have the freedom to set higher targets to allow for future changes in legislation and for promotion of consumer awareness to ensure the sustainability of reuse systems.

Recycled content

Several food industry stakeholders expressed concern about the availability of sufficient recycled content that meets food contact requirements to meet the targets. The industry also expressed concern that investment will be reduced if it does not make sense to invest in a packaging sector if there is uncertainty that the necessary recycled content will be available and that this could lead to a switch to other packaging that may be more environmentally damaging. But several stakeholders expressed support for equal access to recycled content (as part of the mandatory target) so that no product or sector is discriminated against. NGOs, on the other hand, supported the targets, disagreeing that there is not enough recycled content.

The chemical recycling industry called for support for these technologies (believing that chemical recycling of PET has high recovery rates of over 90%, unlike pyrolysis) as they can help produce enough recycled content to meet the targets.

Finally, a request was made for a review by the Commission of imported goods that claim to have recycled content.

DRS & right of first refusal

There was broad support for priority access through right of first refusal (or other mechanisms) for what is placed on the market as this could help SMEs that may have difficulty accessing recycled content due to price, but it was also pointed out that priority access for specific sectors could create a closed market.

While there was not a perfect consensus on mandatory DRS (e.g. fear of increased emissions due to collection), it was recognized that it could be useful for specific waste streams. Mandatory separate collection was supported to allow closed loop recycling if accompanied by a collection target (e.g. 90%) for all beverage packaging.

Stakeholders representing EPR systems expressed support for exemptions from minimum requirements for existing EPR and DRS programs, which could be evaluated based on collection rates.

Sector-specific topics

More specific definitions and reuse targets for food and beverage packaging were requested. Some industry stakeholders supported an exemption from the recycled content targets for reused food packaging to avoid a potential shift to single-use packaging to achieve them.

Similarly for the medical technology sector, whose representatives requested an exemption from the reuse and recycled content targets. The highly regulated industry such as cosmetics, medical technology and pharmaceuticals expressed that any legislation mandating changes in packaging materials and design must align with existing consumer safety regulations, stating, for example, that not all cosmetics packaging can be reused for hygiene reasons and that recycled content is currently not of sufficient quality to be used for contact-sensitive pharmaceutical and medical technology packaging. Also, some medical and pharmaceutical technology packaging may come into contact with chemical or biological reagents that are considered hazardous and therefore are not recyclable. And creating packaging that complies with existing regulations will not meet the 2025-30 deadline for the medical technology and pharmaceutical sector.

Finally, the use of bio-based materials in place of recycled content is recognized as welcome, but will still need to go through a lengthy regulatory process.

Waste prevention

Industry expressed that material-specific targets would better ensure that all producers reduce waste for their own material and do not switch to another material as a means of waste prevention.

Strong support was expressed for establishing clear and enforceable rules to define measurable and quantitative criteria to combat excessive packaging. It was added that defining fit for purpose requirement packaging could solve the excessive packaging issue and prevent the need to have additional requirements. The lightweighting of packaging is more discussed as some manufacturers consider that the complexity of lighter packaging could make it less recyclable.

Labelling

The issue of harmonizing collection systems as well as labeling requirements to improve collection was widely discussed. Also, it was pointed out that highly regulated products that are specified by sectoral regulations may conflict with the labeling requirements of the packaging legislation.

Other topics

There was particular support from industry for all thresholds and targets to be material specific.

NGOs clearly called for recognition of greenwashing, supporting the need for the Commission to examine and address this issue.

Industry - particularly representatives of packaging producers - stakeholder is in favor of all measures being assessed on the basis of life cycle analyses.

Annex 3: Who is affected and how?

3.1. Introduction

This annex sets out the practical implications of the preferred policy package for the stakeholders. It describes the actions that might need to be taken to comply with the obligations under the revised legislation and indicates the likely costs and benefits.

3.2. Practical implications of the initiative

The preferred option will lead to a significant reduction in packaging waste, 19% compared to the baseline in 2030. The measures to deliver this are varied, but will have implications for all actors in the value chain. It will become easier to ensure high quality recycling, harder to justify and continue with excessive packaging and normal to look for way to minimise environmental impacts and manage packaging a part of the circular economy. The following section sets out the main impacts.

The following table provides the summary of costs and benefits per problem area for the options included in the preferred policy package (Option 2). Note that cost and benefits are presented at the level of the preferred policy package which may differ from this for individual measures. The impacts are not additive, their combination can lead to smaller or larger overall costs and benefits to avoid double counting.

As discussed in the main report, the benefits and costs associated with Measure 2b are an indication of the overall package, as all other measures will contribute to its delivery. The analysis for individual measures, set out in Section 6 of the main report and in Annexes 9, consider those measures in isolation.

I. Overview of Benefits (total for all provisions) – Preferred Option (Estimates are relative to the baseline as a whole, i.e. the impact of individual actions/obligations of the preferred option are aggregated together)

Description

Amount

Comments

Waste management costs

Saving of EUR 4.2 billion in 2030

Significant reduction in waste management costs associated with improvements in efficiency, and reduced volumes of waste.

Material savings

Saving of EUR 10.2 billion in 2030

Biowaste contamination

Saving of EUR 122 million in 2030

Reduction in packaging consumption

Saving of EUR 47.5 billion in 2030

Calculated through reduction in unit consumption and including material savings and waste management savings. Assumption that costs (savings) for producers, will be passed on to consumers (who will though face some offsetting hassle costs).

Reduction in GHG emissions and air pollutants

23 million tonnes CO2e in 2030, plus reduction in air pollutants. The estimated value of externalities reduction is EUR 6.4 billion in 2030

Reduction in packaging waste

Reduction of 19% compared to the baseline

Reduction in financial costs associated with packaging and packaging waste

The net financial impacts are a saving of EUR 47.2 billion in 2030.

As part of this will be reduced through consumer changes in behaviour, there could be some offsetting inconvenience (not costed). Other changes will not have offsetting effects (eg reduction in over packaging).

II. Overview of costs – Preferred option

Citizens/Consumers

Businesses

Administrations

One-off

Recurrent

One-off

Recurrent

One-off

Recurrent

Action

Direct adjustment costs

EUR 4 billion (for reuse schemes)

EUR 523 million (for DRS schemes)

Direct administrative costs

EUR 30 million

EUR 1.26 billion

EUR 817.000 (spread over 3 years)

Direct regulatory fees and charges

Direct enforcement costs

Indirect costs

Costs related to the ‘one in, one out’ approach

Actions

Measure 10 - standardisation of reusable packaging formats and effective reuse systems with the aim of optimising reusable packaging relative to function and environmental performance

Negligible admin costs for participation in the standardisation process

Measure 2b: Mandatory 5% absolute ‘intensity’ reduction in 2030

Unclear – will depend on MS implementation choices, but could include monitoring and reporting

Unclear – will depend on MS implementation choices, but could include monitoring and reporting

Measure 8b: Mandatory targets to increase the reuse of packaging – high level

The economic operators will face the administrative burden of reporting their progress presumably by sharing data/information on sales/trips for their multiple use items with the Member States.

Costs incurred for meeting legal obligations to provide information, for this measure are expected to derive from monitoring and reporting the progress with respect to the targets

Measure 21 and 28: Update of Essential Requirements and recyclability definition

Negligible admin costs for participation in the standardisation process

M22b: definition of recyclable packaging

certification of recyclability, administrative costs for the packaging producers of EUR 1.14 billion

Measure 23: Harmonisation of EPR Fee Modulation Criteria

Negligible, as EPR fees are already set

Measure 29d: Compostability for plastics packaging

Small reduction as reduced assessment requirements

Measure 35em/h: Broad targets for plastic packaging – certification scheme and audit

EUR 30 million

Certification of plastic packaging EUR 120 million

Mx Update of current material-based labelling

Savings from simplification, reduced labels

Measure 32b – Notification of substances of concern in packaging

Minimal costs associated with notification

Measure 42b: Harmonization of extended producer responsibility reporting

Possible negligible costs if increased data required but reporting already in place

Measure 27c-y: Labelling criteria to facilitate consumers´ sorting and Measure Mk: Restrictions on use of confusing labels

EUR 10.3 billion (spread over 4 years) but more than offset by administrative savings so assumed net zero

Measure 38-j: Labelling criteria for Recycled Content

No additional costs

Measure 40b: Mandatory minimum Green Public Procurement criteria

Small savings from harmonisation

Measure PCB1: Reporting obligation on plastic carrier bags (PCB)

Possible negligible costs

III. Overview of relevant Sustainable Development Goals – Preferred Option

Relevant SDG

Expected progress towards the Goal

Comments

SDG 12 - responsible consumption and production, and specifically 12.5 to reduce waste

The proposal will lead to significant reductions in packaging waste, in particular there will be a target of 5% reduction in packaging waste measured in kg per capita compared to the 2018 waste generation


Annex 4: Analytical methods

The Impact Assessment takes advantage of a variety of qualitative and quantitative approaches. Most Policy Options likely induce a multitude of effects on businesses, consumers and public bodies, which are quantified where possible.

The analysis is proportionate to the impacts that will result (economic, environmental and social) and the nature of the proposal. Confidence in the overall magnitude of results is reasonably high, whilst for individual Member States the results are also considerable reasonable but with a lower degree of confidence.

4.1. The methodological framework

This section outlines the approach to considering the impact of the preferred option in each of the 27 Member states and/or among the lifecycle stages of packaging.

4.1.1.Economic impacts

A cost-benefit analysis (CBA) model is used to quantify financial costs and benefits, where data and an appropriate methodology consistent with a ‘proportionate evaluation’ are available. 5   All non-quantified costs are discussed in qualitative terms. Financial costs and benefit are, by their nature, concentrated on a specific and defined group of stakeholders. Furthermore, additional costs to one actor can often result in a benefit to other, related stakeholders (e.g. buyers and sellers). Cost impacts are borne by various types of economic stakeholders, and impacts passed on indirectly via supply chains.

·For waste management, a reduction in the growth of waste packaging leads to significant savings on EPR fees and one-way DRS relative to the baseline. These savings accrue to producers, via reduced EPR fees and producer fees for one-way DRSs, however these are potentially passed on down the supply chain (i.e. to wholesalers, fillers, retailers, and finally consumers) through a reduction in the selling price of packaging.

·For the reusable packaging that replaces single-use packaging, the annualised capital and operational costs of running reuse schemes are calculated relative to the baseline. Ultimately, whether these costs are paid directly by retailers or producers, these are also likely to be passed on to consumers. These costs however may also be viewed as the basis of revenue for reusable packaging operators and reconditioners, as this amount represents a service sold.

·The implementation of the compostability measures leads to a reduction in contamination from food waste in the conventional plastic recycling stream, giving rise to savings.

·For packaging producers, there can be significant changes in turnover. This largely reflects a decrease in the sales of single-use packaging and a smaller increase in sales for reusable packaging (the first time it is placed on the market, and not for subsequent rotations). This is turnover, rather than profit. To put this in context, a recent market report estimates the current size of the European packaging market to be EUR195 billion, although this would grow considerably under the baseline. 6  This reduction in turnover also represents, to an extent, the cost saving to reusable packaging users from not having to buy single use packaging on an ongoing basis. This net reduction in turnover includes minor gains in turnover under the recyclable packaging and compostable packaging theme. Increased turnover is due to switches to packaging with a higher sales price, which is the general trend observed from modelled switches to more recyclable packaging types (under the recyclability measures) and from specific conventional packaging types to compostables.

·Material costs are forecast to reduce (i.e. a saving) and represent the value of raw material that is no longer utilized as a result of reduction in packaging manufacture. For measures where packaging is light-weighted this is a saving that accrues to packaging producers. However for switches to reuse, the benefit of this avoided cost is not captured by packaging producers, but instead is countered by the value that reusable packaging owners can generate from selling packaging multiple times as a service (accruing to reuse system operators), or the cost saving from not having to buy single use packaging on an ongoing basis (which accrues to reuse system users such as packer-fillers or consumers, depending on the reuse system in question). In both cases, material savings represent a loss to economic actors who produce and trade primary materials.

The preferred option is modelled via the CBA (cost-benefit analysis) where the interplay between measures has been considered. So, the impact of the individual measures are not equal to the sum of the impacts of each measure.

One of the significant impacts is the reduction in consumption of packaging. This has been calculated through an examination of turnover from the packaging producers: producers sell, for example, 100 Euros less of packaging, so consumers buy 100 Euros less of packaging, producers receive 100 Euros less of income (ie turnover falls) and their expenditure on raw materials, labour etc falls along with their profits. However, that 100 Euros is a benefit from the point of view of society. This assumes full pass through of savings which is reasonable in a competitive market.

With regards to the baseline scenario, it only calculates the mass flows; the environmental and financial impacts are calculated relative to the baseline, but the model does not calculate overall baseline costs.

4.1.2.Environmental Impacts

This section sets out the assumptions and sources used to calculate the environmental impacts (GHG emissions and water consumption) and damage costs (from GHG and air quality, AQ, pollutant emissions). The net impact of the preferred option is to decrease tonnages of waste going to all final destinations (driven by the overall reduction in waste generation). This includes recycling tonnages, which decrease in the preferred option despite gains in recycling rates. Reductions in residual disposal (landfill and incineration) lead to GHG savings (as these activities are net emitters of GHGs). The reduction in recycling has the opposite impact – resulting in a net gain in GHG emissions, as reduced recycling leads to a decrease in avoided GHG emissions (i.e., recycling activities would have led to negative emissions had they taken place, via the reduced use of raw materials in subsequent manufacturing).  Increased deployment of reuse programmes also leads to increased GHG emissions, mainly due to the transportation of reusable packaging. Similarly to the GHG emissions, there are savings at some stages to the packaging lifecycle (manufacturing, residual treatment) while other stages (recycling and reuse) create more impacts. Transport, collection and sorting have not been included.

Modelling of environmental impacts includes the following types of emissions:

1.Manufacturing – direct emissions and energy use from manufacturing. The model also accounts for reduced emissions when using manufacturing with a higher recycled (secondary) material content

2.Transport – transport emissions from manufacture to retailer, and from waste collection depot to final waste destinations

3.Collection – transport emissions from waste collection activities

4.Sorting – emissions produced by mixed waste sorting processes

5.Recycling – direct emissions from recycling process, and avoided GHG emissions through reduced use of raw materials in subsequent manufacturing

6.Incineration – direct emissions and GHG avoided through energy generation

7.Landfill – direct emissions and GHGs avoided through energy generation

8.Reuse – emissions from transport and washing in reuse schemes

Monetisation of greenhouse gas emissions and air quality impacts

In relation to the monetisation of greenhouse gas emissions, a cost of carbon is used 7 for the preferred policy options. Figures underpinning the analysis are below, with the central value used (as most consistent with the climate commitments) and the 2030 value used of 100 EUR per t CO2eq.

Table 1: Values in current Euros per t CO2eq.

Low

Central

High

Up to 2030

60

100

189

Post 2030

156

269

498

The damage costs associated with the air quality emissions from production, recycling, incineration and landfill were also modelled for each Member State. The analysis included monetary values for NH3, NOx PM2.5, PM10, SO2, and VOCs, the ‘pollutants’ 8 . 

4.1.3.Social Impacts

There are estimates of the impacts in employment across the packaging lifecycle, with job losses in manufacturing, recycling and residual treatment, and job gains in reuse.

Estimates for employment come from the mass flow model, and are based on direct impacts on employment. Effectively, this relates to the labour intensity of the changes in cost and expenditure in the different elements of the market. Such an analysis is partial, in the sense that it does not identify knock-on effects. The analysis recognises that impacts on the level of employment can be expected as demand for labour is changed as eg producers employ more people due to increase in demand for packaging. However, this could raise wages which would have a complex net effect on employment levels, with increases in employment in one sector being compensated for by decreases elsewhere in the economy. The nature of the net effect will also be determined by location, skill category and the level of involuntary non-employment in the economy. As such, the estimates are partial and it would be inappropriate to include monetised estimates of expected additional jobs in the cost-benefit analysis.

4.2.    Description of the model

4.1.4.The baseline in the model

The model provides a baseline for packaging consumption, waste generation and management for the EU-27 9 , against which the impacts of policy options will be assessed.

The model uses historical data from 2006 to 2018 with projections for the years 2018 to 2050. 2006 is the first year of modelling as this is the first year in which detailed market data is available, which is used in the methodology to supplement Eurostat statistics. Projections are generally reported out to 2040 only, as beyond this date the modelled trends are particularly speculative. Projections to 2050 are only used for the purposes of understanding potential contributions towards 2050 net zero greenhouse gas emission targets.

Modelling of future trends includes relevant EU-level and national policies and measures, which are assumed to continue in force. Future trends also include the modelled impact of socio-economic developments (population growth, GDP growth etc.). The methodology used for modelling the baseline is described in full in the support study’s Appendix B.

4.1.5.Scope/data used

Data inputs to the model consist of links to the baseline mass flows (e.g. placed on market tonnages, waste destinations, recycled content etc.). The preparation of a baseline of historic and projected packaging flows in Europe required the design of an appropriate method to compile and cross-compare data from existing datasets on packaging consumption and waste management.

Projections are based on a “no policy change” scenario, i.e. modelling of future trends will include all relevant EU-level and national policies and measures, which are assumed to continue in force. Future trends also include the modelled impact of socio-economic developments (population growth, GDP growth etc.).

The scope of this analysis includes all major packaging types, that is:

·Household, commercial and industrial;

·Primary, secondary and tertiary;

·All major packaging materials – glass, steel, aluminium, plastic, paper/board, wood and material designated as ‘other’ (in Eurostat);

·Single-use and multi-use (reusable) packaging.

Regarding the terms used here, packaging waste generation refers to the number of units/tonnage of packaging at the end-of-life i.e. when the packaging becomes waste. Packaging consumption relates to the number of units/tonnage of packaging placed on the market i.e. the number used by the user. For single-use packaging, packaging consumption is in nearly all cases equivalent to waste generation. For example, a single use beverage bottle is bought, used and then discarded. The situation is different for multi-use packaging, in this case a single unit of packaging is used/consumed multiple times (and, in the case of open-loop reuse, also placed on the market multiple times, see support study Appendix B). The number of uses of packaging before it becomes waste is therefore an important variable to understand in determining the relationship between consumption and waste.

Primary, secondary and tertiary packaging refers to the terms as defined in the PPWD:

Primary Packaging (or sales packaging) - packaging conceived so as to constitute a sales unit to the final user or consumer at the point of purchase;

Secondary Packaging (or grouped packaging) - packaging conceived so as to constitute at the point of purchase a grouping of a certain number of sales units whether the latter is sold as such to the final user or consumer or whether it serves only as a means to replenish the shelves at the point of sale; it can be removed from the product without affecting its characteristics;

It was not possible to clearly delineate secondary packaging from primary packaging, and therefore secondary packaging is included in primary packaging in the baseline.

Tertiary Packaging (or transport packaging) - packaging conceived so as to facilitate handling and transport of a number of sales units or grouped packaging in order to prevent physical handling and transport damage. Transport packaging does not include road, rail, ship and air containers;

Packaging waste management refers to the final destination of packaging waste: recycling, incineration, landfill, and litter left in the terrestrial and marine environment (i.e. that is not collected). Reuse is not included as a waste destination, and the impact of reuse in the model is to decrease the quantity of new packaging that is placed on the market (and that subsequently becomes waste).

The output of waste generated by packaging type is the result of the merger, collation and cross-comparison of multiple datasets/sources with varying degrees of accuracy and data gaps and tuned to high-level packaging waste statistics as reported to Eurostat. These tonnages (and any data presented at the packaging type level) are a ‘model’ of the real-world, which provides the best-possible representation of packaging flows in Europe within the constraints of the data and resources available. The results are presented for the EU27 and are the aggregation of underlying data which is calculated separately for each Member State.

Whilst the support study presents a more detailed overview of the model used, it is useful to note the assumptions about the policy drivers in the modelling.

Table 2: Drivers considered for baseline model

Driver

Impact

Rationale

PPWD targets

High

The targets will drive changes but will not be met.

Waste Framework Directive – Compostables

High

There is a significant possibility that the market for bioplastics will increase in future years.

Single Use Plastics Directive

Low

The method that Member States will choose to achieve the SUPD targets is not clear, and it is not apparent if this will shift behaviour to reusable alternatives.

Modulated EPR Fees

Low

Modulated fees are still in their infancy and the relative fees are not yet known for most Member States. A conservative assumption has been made that significant switches between packaging types will not occur.

Deposit Refund Schemes

Low

We have assumed that DRS schemes are implemented for plastic bottles only, driven by the collection targets set out in the SUPD. Whilst, in reality, other materials are likely to be included in any DRSs implemented, there is no explicit policy driver for this to take place.

EU Budget Contribution

Low

Member States do not choose to share the burden of the contribution with industry through taxation on virgin materials/ unrecycled packaging, or choose to do so, but to a limited extent that is insufficient to incentivise switches to recyclable packaging design/ types – minimal impact on recycling rates.

Landfill Directive

Waste Framework Directive – Incineration of Recyclables

Green Claims

Food Contact Material Rules

Circular Plastics Alliance

Sustainable Products Initiative

Not Included

These changes are not defined in the model – as the model is calibrated based on the overall assumption of meeting recycling targets.

4.1.6.Impact assessment methodology

The cost-benefit analysis (CBA) model has been built to quantify the impacts of the measures relative to the baseline (Figure 3). A full description of the impact modelling methodology and assumptions is available in Appendix D of the support study.

Figure 3: Flow diagram of CBA model

Specific modules have been designed for each of the intervention areas, each with the calculations required to model the specific processes that are modified by the measures. The impacts of the measures / combinations of measures for each of the measures have been modelled in a two-stage process.

·Firstly, the impacts on mass flows of the measures are modelled, including the consumption, waste generation, and waste management routes for each packaging type, as well as additional data such as recycled content.

·The second modelling stage is to calculate the impacts, including financial, environmental and social impacts. Impacts are calculated by applying unit impact factors. These factors are defined in terms of the impacts per tonne, both in financial terms (EUR per tonne), or impacts related to other environmental and social factors (e.g. greenhouse gas emissions, or employment impacts). These are calculated either within the model or sourced from existing data. A program of research will be required to obtain the parameters we need for these unit factors, including literature reviews and surveys with relevant stakeholders.

All impacts show the change driven by the measures relative to the baseline scenario i.e. impacts relate to the marginal change in GHG emissions, financial costs etc. Where relevant, a selection of outputs is also reported in absolute terms (e.g. the recycling rate before and after the implementation of the measure) in addition to reporting the ‘marginal’ impact (e.g. the change in recycling rate).

The impact modelling is conducted over the relevant time period for each measure – most measures are assumed to be implemented in 2023, and for the magnitude of impacts to incrementally increase until the policy reaches its ‘maximum’ level of impact (generally in 2030). Where different timescales are specified in the measure, these timeframes are included in the modelling. In general, 2030 is the most relevant year for comparison with the baseline, with 2040 also providing a useful reference point.

Many of the policy measures have the potential for far-reaching and relatively complex impacts (e.g. across thousands of different packaging types). Furthermore, there are data gaps, for example the commercially confidential nature of much of the cost data required for modelling, and the lack of cost data on emerging technologies. Impacts have therefore been quantified only where there is data available to do so and a suitable methodology can be designed which is consistent with a ‘proportionate evaluation’. 10 Where impacts are not quantified, a qualitative approach has been applied to include these in the analysis.

Mass Flow Model- Crossover Impacts

The impacts of the measures on mass flows include a range of impacts, for example, switches from one packaging type to another, changes in recycling rate, uplift in recycled content etc.

The model is set up so that measures can be modelled in isolation (‘measure by measure’) and also in combination, for the purpose of modelling policy ‘options’. It is worth noticing that the measure by measure’ analysis does not give a full picture of the impacts since the cumulative impact of the measures cannot be assessed. There is significant crossover in terms of the impacts of the measures which highlights the importance of considering measures in combination. In other words, when multiple measures are modelled simultaneously, the impact of any one measure will not be the same as when this measure is modelled in isolation.

When designing the model, it was therefore necessary to set a ‘logical order’ for the mass flow calculation modules for each intervention area in a sensible order. Any outputs from calculation modules applied earlier in this calculation chain become inputs for those modules later in the chain. The order of calculation modules is follows:

·Waste Prevention

·Recyclability

·Compostable Packaging

·Reusable Packaging

·Recycled Content

Modelling in this way therefore ensures that modelling of policy options is not just done by simply adding up the impacts of individual measures, but by accurately taking into account the overlaps and crossovers between measures, and their implications.

Waste Prevention and reuse

There is a strong link between the waste prevention and reuse measures, which is particularly evident for measure 2 “Mandatory MS level reduction targets”. Table 8 sets out the general specification of this measure, and the modelled ‘measures’ to achieve reduction targets. Cross-sectoral targets are defined in different terms to the sector by sector targets for reuse and for other waste prevention measures. As can be seen, it is assumed that each intervention area – waste prevention and reuse – provides an equal (50/50) contribution to achieve the targets.

Table 3: Modelling Specification for Measure 2

Waste Prevention

Reuse

Overall reduction target (waste generation per capita by 2030 as a % of 2018 levels)

Measure 2b – 5%

Measure 2c – 10%

Contribution from each intervention area to meeting target

50%

50%

‘Measures’ modelled to achieve reduction targets

Measure 7 – phase out of unavoidable unnecessary packaging (and subsequent switch to reuse)

Measure 5 – Void space limit thresholds

Also includes more general reductions in unit weight

Assumes the distribution of increases in reusable packaging is similar to that determined by Measure 8 (reuse targets)

Switches to reuse are modelled using predetermined magnitudes of switches from single-use to multi-use packaging / product types. The model recalculates the degree of substitution needed to increase the number of consumer activities that use multiple-use (rather than single-use) packaging and, therefore, result in a net reduction in waste generation equivalent to the defined targets. As an example, it has been assumed that single-use primary plastic rigid food packaging (e.g. pots, tubs and trays) would switch to multi-use plastic packaging food refill scheme boxes (e.g. Loop): 50% plastic packaging and 50% steel packaging. The complete list of assumptions can be found in the Support study, Appendix D – Impact modelling methodology. The model assumes that the types of changes that will take place (i.e. which packaging / product types are switched to reusable alternatives more) are broadly similar for both the sector by sector (M8) and cross-sectoral (M9) targets.

Recyclability

An initial review was conducted to determine, for each packaging type, the extent to which:

·The packaging is currently recycled at scale; and

·The packaging could be recycled at scale in the future using existing recycling technology

The first of these criteria aims to define the recyclability of packaging in terms of the qualitative statements put forward by a range of stakeholders. These definitions focus on the ability for a package to be collected, sorted, and recycled, in practise and at scale. Recycling ‘at scale’ implicitly requires a significant quantity (or proportion) of material placed on the market to be recycled, to meet these criteria. For items that are not currently recycled at scale, the second of these criteria assesses the degree to which recycling at scale would be possible in the future using existing recycling technology. Products such as multi-laminate plastic bags (which may contain two or more different types of polymers, as well as a thin layer of aluminium) cannot be recycled at scale with existing recycling technology. Further advances in recycling technology, such as chemical recycling, would be needed to achieve higher recycling rates. Advances in chemical recycling and increased use of this technology are likely over the next decade or so, and will help Member States to improve recycling rates.

The impact modelling focuses on items types which cannot be recycled using current technology. To achieve ‘recyclability’ will require redesign/switching to more ‘recyclable’ packaging types and/or improvement in recycling technology – primarily chemical recycling as well as other innovative technologies. These packaging types are:

Aluminium (Primary / consumer): Flexibles e.g. foils

Paper / board (Primary / consumer): Beverage cartons; Non-beverage liquid packaging board e.g. soups; Other paper / board

Plastic (Primary / consumer): Rigid food e.g. pots, tubs and trays; Other rigids (non-beverage, non-food) e.g. blister packs; Multi-polymer/material stand-up pouches; Other mono/multi polymer/layer flexibles (excl. film); Films; Other (Primary / consumer): Miscellaneous (not included elsewhere)

Plastic (Tertiary / transport): Film and bubble pouches - e-commerce

The modelling methodology, including the implicit logic modelled for the baseline, is set out in Table 4 below.


Table 4: ‘Recyclability’ Modelling Methodology

Baseline

Scenario

Improved recycling collection / treatment based on existing waste management practises

Achieves recycling at scale (and therefore meets recyclability criteria) for packaging types that can be recycled using existing technology.

Redesign – Including switches to more recyclable packaging types

Increases overall recycling rate sufficient to achieve 55% recycling by 2030

Further switching above and beyond the baseline, driven by requirement for ‘recyclability’

Chemical recycling + other advanced recycling technologies

Some rollout, supports attainment of recycling rate targets

Further rollout to improve recycling rates of packaging and meet recycling rate threshold for quantitative definition of recyclability

Recycled Content

For this intervention area, measure 35 ‘Recycled Content targets for plastic packaging’ was modelled in the CBA; however, only the first two variants were quantitatively assessed, which were later discarded.

Mandatory recycled content targets would be established for plastic packaging to be met by operators placing plastic packaging on the EU market by 2030 and 2040. Specific targets have been set for beverage bottles, contact sensitive and non-contact sensitive plastic packaging.

Compostable Packaging

The CBA considered the proportion of material that would be switched from conventional packaging to compostable packaging under Measure 29. The food waste and the compostable plastics were assumed to be treated by a mix of composting and AD facilities, the proportion of which varies across Member States. The starting point for developing these assumptions was the EU Reference Model on Waste which sought data from MS on their future waste treatment infrastructure; proportions were updated based on more recent knowledge of the market (tested with stakeholders) where appropriate. 11

It is assumed in the baseline that there is a further uptake of compostable plastics even without any changes being made to the Directive. In the absence of any policy intervention, it is assumed that there would be a 2.4% increase in compostable packaging per annum between 2019 and 2024, based on data published by the European Bioplastics Association. The model assumes a further increase of the same magnitude between 2024 and 2030.

The following mass flow categories are expected to be affected by the switch to compostable packaging items:

Packaging Unit category

Compostable packaging type

Other mono/multi polymer/layer flexibles (excl. film)

Carrier bags

Fruit / veg bags

Tea bags

Fruit labels

Plastic film for perishables

Rigid food e.g. pots, tubs and trays

Fast food trays unsuitable for re-use

Coffee capsules / pods

Films

Films for food trays

Other paper / board

Trays for fruit

 

A key factor driving scenario impacts in the model is the level of contamination in food waste, measured as a percentage of the amount of plastic in the collected food waste. Assumptions in this respect are shown in Table 5.

Table 5: Conventional Plastic contamination of food waste

 

Business as Usual

Mandate Compost.

Ban Compost.

Both Allowed

Partial Mandate Compost.

Carrier bags

3.50%

0.20%

7.00%

2.80%

0.20%

Fruit / veg bags

0.70%

0.10%

1.00%

0.56%

0.10%

Fast food trays unsuitable for re-use

0.10%

0.10%

0.08%

0.08%

Tea bags

0.00%

0.00%

0.00%

Fruit labels

0.01%

 

0.01%

0.01%

0.00%

Coffee capsules / pods

0.10%

 

0.10%

0.08%

0.08%

Plastic film for perishables

0.20%

0.20%

0.20%

0.16%

0.16%

Films for food trays

0.20%

0.20%

0.20%

0.16%

0.16%

Trays for fruit

0.20%

0.20%

0.20%

0.16%

0.16%

Financial costs model

The financial impacts were modelled across the packaging lifecycle as follows:

·Changes in overall waste management costs were calculated by combining separate costs for recycling and residual waste management. It is worth noting that additional costs for one actor can result in a benefit for other related stakeholders (e.g. buyers and sellers) and that many of the policy measures proposed by this study can have a complex impact (e.g. on thousands of different types of packaging). In addition, costs were only quantified where data was available and an appropriate methodology could be designed.

·Residual waste management costs for incineration and landfill were obtained from the European Reference Model on Waste Management. 12

·For recycling, we assumed that the most realistic costs were likely to be those from an existing well-functioning EPR scheme, in this case, Fostplus in Belgium 13 .

·For reuse, five schemes were considered and a methodology was designed to estimate the annualised capital and operational costs of reuse schemes, with cost assumptions derived on a per use basis. The model takes into account that there is a wide variety of reuse schemes that could contribute to achieving reuse targets. These range from large national or transnational schemes (such as DRS), to markets where a multitude of privately run schemes exist to reuse, for example, transport packaging such as pallets.

·For production and sales costs, the change in producer turnover was calculated to understand the costs/benefits of the proposed policy changes for producers and buyers of packaging.

·Costs specific to compostable policy are based on the relative costs of compostable versus conventional polymers obtained from a Dutch data set.

Environmental impacts

The environmental assessment focuses on impacts for which there is the most reliable data, namely greenhouse gas impacts and air emissions with reliable data on health impacts. The assessment therefore covers the majority of the impacts for which stakeholders generally express the most concern.

The main impacts assessed are: greenhouse gas emissions, air quality pollutant emissions, water consumption, transport and washing of reusable items, compostable packaging.

One of the key assessed impacts is greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), which have been considered throughout the packaging lifecycle:

·Impacts of manufacturing comprise both primary energy-related emissions (e.g. from natural gas use) and electricity-related GHG emissions.

·The benefits of recycling were calculated by subtracting the GHG emissions of primary production from those of reprocessing. Reprocessing impacts are a function of the primary energy demand and electricity demand of the processes

·The emissions resulting from the incineration and landfilling were modelled using Eunomia’s in-house waste treatment models 14 , which calculate total process emissions (i.e. direct emissions arising at the facility), indirect energy-consumption related emissions, and energy generation (which displaces generation that would have produced GHG emissions).

·The emissions from transport, collection and sorting were calculated based on our experience of waste collection logistics modelling.

Emissions from air pollutants are included in the calculation of total externalities arising from product the product lifecycle. The pollutants accounted for in the modelling are: Ammonia (NH3); Nitrogen oxides (NOx); Particulates (PM2.5 and PM10); Sulfur dioxide (SO2), and; Volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

In practical terms, the emissions affecting air quality from reprocessing are due to the consumption of primary energy and electricity. Emissions from incineration and landfilling of the materials in question were modelled using Eunomia's internal waste treatment models.

Also included in the externalities calculation are the damage costs associated with the GHG emissions, which use the per-tonne emissions costs.

·Water consumption: These impacts were also modelled in a similar way as for the GHG emissions, by looking at the impacts per each phase of the lifecycle per material. Data on water consumption resulting from recycling processes and incineration and landfill of materials was modelled using Eunomia's internal models.

·Emissions related to the transport and washing of reusable items :The impacts of transporting reusable items from their point of use to the depot or reconditioning centre were modelled assuming an average distance of 20 km from the point of use to the depot and transport by a 12-tonne truck meeting EURO Class 5 air quality emission standards. The number of uses per domestic or industrial wash was assumed based on case studies; and the energy consumed per item in a hand wash or home dishwashing was calculated based on the energy consumption of one wash cycle.

·Pollutant emissions from compostable packaging: The future development of compostable plastic polymers is still unknown, which adds complexity and uncertainty to the modelling of environmental impacts. The carbon content of compostable plastic was modelled based on the chemical structure of PLA (polylactic acid: biodegradable polymer in industrial composting), for which relevant data was available.

·Other environmental impacts Among the other environmental impacts, impacts associated with emissions to water and soil are excluded from the assessment as there is no agreed methodology for assessing these impacts.

Social impacts

The modelled social impacts refer to employment gain/loss for each stage of the packaging lifecycle.

·Manufacturing jobs were calculated using an approximate methodology, based on a comparison of value added per worker for each material type to producer turnover.

·The employment figures for various treatment and disposal options were sourced from previous Eunomia research conducted for the European Reference Model on Municipal Waste Management.

·The figures for reuse were calculated using the same approach to derive reuse costs, which is based on the five types of reuse schemes. 



Annex 5: Legal environment

5.1. Legal Basis

The current legal basis of the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive is Article 114 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). 15 Based on this provision, the Union can take action to ensure the functioning of the internal market.

It is proposed that the legal basis for this initiative remains Article 114 TFEU.

The function of packaging is to ensure “containment, protection, handling, delivery and presentation of goods, from raw materials to processed goods, from the producer to the user or the consumer”. Most goods require packaging at several stages of their product life. Non-harmonised rules related to packaging can create barriers to the internal market not only for the free flow of packaging, but also for goods and services themselves. One of the main objectives of this initiative is to further detail and harmonise the essential requirements for packaging, which are conditions for placing packaging on the market and should therefore be fully harmonised.

As PPWD is based on Article 114 TFEU, the internal market notification procedure applies for draft national technical rules, as set out in Directive 2015/1535. 16 In the context of these procedures, assessment of various recent national notifications showed that the implementation of some not-fully-harmonised provisions of the Directive, such as labelling requirements under Article 8(2) of the Directive, or vague requirements, such as the essential requirements on packaging minimisation or recyclability, or indeed the implementation of the new requirements on reuse under Article 5 of the Directive, are causing additional cost to industry. Industry is calling for further harmonisation not only to limit cost but also in order to have a clear roadmap of environmental requirements, so that appropriate research and infrastructure investments can be made.

Furthermore, the problem definition of this impact assessment demonstrated further problems hindering harmonised application of packaging rules, which can pose a significant risk of further regulatory divergence leading to suboptimal impacts on the single market and the environment. This includes legislative and practical divergences between Member States on issues such as in particular: (i) understanding of essential requirements under Art. 9 PPWD, (ii) scope of EPR-related reporting, (iii) fee modulation criteria for EPR fees under collective EPR schemes, (iv) classification of reusable packaging as reusable packaging or as waste, and (v) understanding of recyclability of packaging.

The packaging market is one that is characterised by high-levels of cross-border trade between Member States, with many producers placing packaging on the market in multiple Member States. Cross-border movements have further increased with the rise in the use of the internet for distance sales of packaged goods. In the same time, Member States, which have themselves undertaken many environmental and sustainability commitments and are responding to raising public awareness, are unilaterally taking initiatives and regulating packaging related issues. This is leading to divergent approaches which increase the administrative complexity for business operators, particularly those selling across multiple markets. Producers increasingly face the risk of contradictory incentives for similar packaging items across different Member States

In order to achieve a circular economy for packaging in a cost-effective way, it is essential to harness the strength of the internal market. In addition to pursuing internal market objectives, the proposal will contribute to a high level of environmental protection, by unlocking opportunities for the circular, clean and green economy. Therefore, it is appropriate to use Article 114 TFEU as the sole legal basis.

5.2. Nature of the instrument

The evaluation of the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive and the analysis preceding the impact assessment revealed that more harmonisation is necessary. This can be better achieved in the form of a regulation, rather than a directive, as used in the previous approach.

After the expiry of the 2-year transposition period, the 2018 amendment of the PPWD (Directive 2018/852) was not transposed in time by 23 Member States. Almost four years after the adoption of the Directive, 3 Member States have still not transposed the directive (in April 2022). This necessarily implies that such countries are also not implementing measures necessary to meet the new requirements, such has higher recycling rates in 2025. Indeed, preliminary results of the upcoming Commission’s Early Warning Report show that many Member States look to be struggling to meet the recycling targets, as a consequence of the combined impacts of above problem drivers.

In considering the issue of subsidiarity in the sense of Article 5(3) of the Treaty on European Union 17 it should be taken into account that the present legislation on packaging already provides for an extensive control over the management of packaging and packaging waste. However, in order to further promote the move to a low-carbon and circular economy, a new comprehensive set of regulatory solutions will need to be put in place. Given the scope and scale of the envisaged measures to be introduced by the initiative its harmonised and correct implementation could pose a significant legislative challenge for the Member States and therefor hinder the circular economy. In order to avoid such a risk, the Commission considered a regulation to be an appropriate instrument to address the environmental challenges related to packaging and waste packaging.

Apart from the above, it has to be noted that uneven implementation of PPWD into national laws lead to creation of fragmented markets across Member States. A patchwork of national transpositions reduced the effectiveness of the policy and put in jeopardy the effective establishment of a circular economy. This situation has been aggravated by the fact that some of the Member States took unilateral action on packaging policies. This, while potentially welcome, brought further challenges for the integrity of the internal market. Individual measures employed by Member States encompassed measures related to binding and non-binding reuse targets, use of Green Public Procurement and/or use of EPR funds to promote reuse. Differing packaging and packaging waste obligations in different areas of the EU set differences of treatments between market actors and induced competitive distortions between EU market actors.

The existing barriers in the form of differing national regulatory frameworks can only be removed by more detailed, harmonised rules on the organisation of collection and recovery processes and related responsibilities, including rules that should apply directly to economic operators. Only a regulation will ensure that the obligations are implemented at the same time and in the same way in all 27 Member States. Imposition of the same requirements to all market players will reduce the risk of distortion of competition and send clear signals to non-EU market actors, when placing products on the market in the EU allowing fulfilment of the legislative obligations under the European Green Deal and the CEAP. The instrument will also mandate the Commission to develop implementing measures to flesh out the Regulation further, where necessary, allowing for common rules to be set swiftly.

5.3. Articulation with existing and emerging EU policy

The Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive is the main EU-level instrument dealing with placing on the market of packaging and requirements for its end-of life. There are also provisions on packaging or relevant to it in other EU legislation. Given that the review of the PPWD aims at tackling complex phenomenon such as packaging waste prevention, packaging recyclability, bio-based, compostable and bio-degradable packaging, use of recycled content and hazardous substances in packaging, as well as enabling measures, such as labelling for separate collection, packaging related green public procurement requirements and EPR requirements, it is necessary to define the PPWD’s articulation with existing applicable legislation, as well as other initiatives relevant for the goals of PPWD. The aim is to prevent duplication so as to minimise the administrative burden for economic operators and authorities.

Table 6 below lists and compares specific aspects of the different initiatives, showing their interaction, with the PPWD revision.

Table 6: Comparison of the PPWD revision with specific aspects of other EU initiatives

1

EU Taxonomy Regulation and technical screening criteria 18

Legislative or non-legislative?

Legislative, voluntary. Status: Regulation in force. Delegating act to be adopted

Brief description

Regulation (EU) 2020/852 19 , or Taxonomy Regulation (TR), establishes unified and harmonised criteria for determining whether an economic activity qualifies as substantially contributing to environmental objectives in the EU. This is primarily to enable financial market participants to make and report on sustainable investment decisions.

The TR is centred on six environmental objectives: climate change mitigation, climate change adaptation, sustainable use and protection of water and marine resources, transition to a circular economy, pollution prevention and control, and protection and restoration of biodiversity and ecosystems. Technical screening criteria are developed for each environmental objective.

In order to qualify for inclusion in the EU Taxonomy, economic activities will need to: (a) substantially contribute to at least one of the six environmental objectives, by complying with robust and science-based technical screening criteria; (b) do no significant harm to the remaining environmental objectives; and (c) respect minimum social safeguards, and (d) comply with robust and science-based technical screening criteria that determine what substantial contribution and do no significant harm means for a given economic activity and environmental objective.

A delegated act specifying 20 the content and presentation of information to be disclosed by financial and non-financial undertakings was adopted on 6th July 2021.

The technical screening criteria will be developed and adopted successively: a delegated act on the two climate-related objectives 21 has already been adopted on 4th June 2021, while the second delegated act for the remaining objectives shall be published in 2022.

Interaction with the PPWD revision

Taxonomy acts have a different scope, but in some respects may prove complementary to the PPWD review’s objectives: The TR’s aim to provide harmonised criteria for the recognition of projects as environmentally sustainable, and, thus, inter alia, to contribute to a circular economy. The new initiative on PPW, in turn, regulates the EU’s management of packaging and packaging waste in order to reduce its negative impact on the environment and its revision strives to better align the packaging market and packaging waste management with the circular economy principles.

The “Taxo4” non-climate related delegated act will be adopted in 2022, and will include setting up of technical screening criteria determining the conditions under which a specific economic activity qualifies as contributing substantially to the transition to a circular economy. Any criteria regarding the packaging industry, or packaging as product, to be specified in such delegated act, will have to be in line with the revised packaging requirements specified in the new PPW legislation and where they are more ambitious be scrutinised not to create barriers to the internal market for packaging and packed products.

Article 19 of the TR lying down general requirements for technical screening criteria (including for transition to circularity) requires to build the criteria “where appropriate, upon Union labelling and certification schemes (…)” and to “take into account any relevant existing Union legislation”. In this regards, the two initiatives should be coherent in terms of envisaged labelling of packaging and/or any future certification schemes (e.g. for recyclability, compostability, and/or recycled content).

Therefore, coherence between the two initiatives should be sought in terms of TR’s criteria for substantial contribution towards transition to a circular economy, which could be a liaison point between the two acts for packaging-related industries. Legally, the definitions in the new legislation proposal will take precedence as it is a higher norm in terms of hierarchy of EU legal acts than delegated acts envisaged for the Taxonomy.

2

Eco-design Directive 22 and Sustainable Products Initiative (SPI) – Eco-design for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESP Regulation) 23

Legislative or non-legislative?

Legislative, obligatory.

Eco-design directive: Status: Directive under revision

SPI Initiative: ESP Regulation envisaged for adoption by the Commission in the first half of 2022 to be followed by implementing measures (delegated acts).

Brief description

The Eco-design Directive 24 is currently under review, to be replaced by the proposed Eco-design for Sustainable Products (ESP) Regulation. The Eco-design Directive establishes minimum product- related and, where relevant, information requirements, for ‘energy-related products’, on energy efficiency and other environmental aspects. This is being operationalised via implementing regulations per product category, in accordance with regular working plans (currently Working Plan 2016-2019; Working plan 2020-2024 planned for adoption in H1 2022).

These regulations, for a given product category, prevent the worst-performing products to enter the EU market. Since the first Circular Economy Action Plan (2015) the Commission systematically includes circular economy aspects (in addition to energy efficiency) in product requirements under the Eco-design Directive, including inter alia reparability, durability, upgradability and recyclability when drafting new or revising existing eco-design requirements.

The proposal for an ESP Regulation to replace the Eco-design Directive will extend the Eco-design framework beyond energy-related products, excluding food and feedstuff. It will also enable the setting of eco-design requirements for groups of products sharing common characteristics. The ESP Regulation will enable the setting of additional legislative measures which will strengthen products sustainability and facilitate more informed choices for consumers. Eco-design requirements to be set under ESP will be mandatory.

The ESP Regulation will enable the setting of requirements that improve information flows through, inter alia, establishing a Digital Product Passport. The Digital Product Passport would give access along the value chain to relevant products characteristics (e.g. durability and reparability of products, presence of substances of concern, handling at the end of life etc.), with differentiated access to consumers, businesses and compliance authorities were appropriate.

Interaction with the PPWD revision

The ESP Regulation will enable the setting of appropriate minimum performance and information requirements for a wider range of physical products, except food and feedstuff.

As regards packaging, the ESP Regulation is not envisaging to cover packaging as a (stand-alone) product under it, in order not to duplicate the PPW legislation.

However, product-specific delegated acts under the ESP Regulation could include where appropriate aspects of packaging that are specifically related to the design of products, to enable further sustainability gains beyond the reach of the sectoral packaging legislation. In particular measures aimed at minimalizing the amount of packaging used could be considered.

The proposed articulation is that the ESP Regulation will allow for the setting, where appropriate, of requirements on the packaging of specific products covered by ESP delegated acts (as already possible under the current Eco-design Directive), while the instrument replacing the PPWD will set cross cutting (essential) requirements for all packaging, with possible differentiation for some specific packaging types. Where packaging for specific product groups might be regulated by delegated acts under the ESP Regulation, this will have to be done in coherence with any definitions and methodologies under the new PPW legislation, and vice versa regarding any implementing provisions under the PPW legislation.

Coherence should also be sought in terms of the envisaged interaction between the SCIP database (Substances of Concern In articles as such or in complex objects (Products) database) and the IT infrastructure of the Digital Product Passport (DPP) foreseen to be established under ESP Regulation. In line with one of the measures considered under the PPWD revision, the scope of the notification obligation in the SCIP database for articles that fall under the category of packaging could be extended to a broader set of such as those with a harmonised classification under CLP or to “substances of concern”, as defined in the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability. Given such information exchange is envisaged, due account should be taken of any proposed expansions in the scope of information to be notified to SCIP as regards packaging, when planning and designing any future evolution of the database, as well as of the architecture and design of the planning of the DPP to which it could be linked.

DPP will not cover packaging as an independent product and, given that the ESP Regulation will not apply to food, it will not address the matter of food packaging. Therefore, the new legislation on PPW should refer to ESP Regulation with respect to DPP for non-food packaging, where necessary. If application of similar instruments proves to be useful also for food packaging, new legislative provisions regarding them should be prepared and adopted.

Finally it needs to be ensured, that information requirements related to a product under the ESP Regulation can be clearly distinguished from information requirements related to a products’ packaging that might be required under the PPW legislation.

3

Waste Framework Directive 25 (WFD)

Legislative or non-legislative?

Legislative, mandatory. Status: Directive in force; last revised in 2018.

Brief description

The WFD 26 establishes horizontally applicable concepts and definitions related to waste generation and waste management, including waste treatment, recycling and recovery. It lays down waste management principles, which should contribute to the reduction of adverse impact of the waste management to human health or the environment, with an emphasis on waste prevention. The WFD defines the waste hierarchy as a priority order waste prevention over reuse and/or recycling, subsequently recycling over other recovery options and final disposal via landfilling. Additionally, it outlines conditions for waste to be considered a by-product and regulates the end-of-waste status. Pursuant to Art. 9 of the WFD, Member States must undertake actions to prevent waste generation, with measures encouraging the re-use of products, promoting and supporting sustainable production and consumption and reduction of hazardous substances in materials and products.

The WFD sets targets for the preparation for re-use and the recycling of waste materials from municipal waste, which were increased in the 2018 revision through the setting of targets for the 2025, 2030 and 2035.

The WFD obliges Member States to ensure the functioning of Extended Producer’s Responsibility (EPR) schemes, which is a set of measures taken by Member States to ensure that producers of products bear financial responsibility or financial and organisational responsibility for the management of the waste stage of a product’s life cycle. The WFD sets up a set of minimum requirements for EPR schemes to that end

In the new Circular Economy Action Plan, adopted in March 2020, the Commission committed to take steps towards: - significant reduction of generation of waste, - better use of secondary raw materials and - environmentally sound waste management. The Commission furthermore committed itself to assess feasibility of harmonising the separate waste collection systems in the Member States.

With a view to implementing these objectives and in order to comply with the WFD’s review clauses, the Commission has launched the revision of the act.

Interaction with the PPWD revision

The primary objective of both the WFD and the PPWD is sustainable management of waste, in order to contribute to circularity. PPWD is broader in coverage in that it explicitly regulates the entire life cycle of packaging from its production to the end-of-life. It also has as its objective the preservation of the internal market, whereas the WFD is currently limited to environmental and human health aspects of waste, in line with the waste hierarchy “as a priority order in waste prevention and management legislation and policy” (Art. 4 WFD). The scope of these two legal acts differs also in the sense that WFD lays down the foundations for waste management in a horizontal way whereas the PPWD specifically targets packaging. WFD – being a framework legislation for management of waste – applies also to packaging in terms of its general principles, with PPWD, as lex specialis, taking precedence in case of divergence or more specific measures. PPWD is therefore implementing, for the sector of packaging waste, objectives and measures envisaged in the waste framework directive.

PPWD sometimes explicitly refers to WFD for certain definitions (e.g. waste, waste management, collection, separate collection, prevention, reuse, treatment, recovery, recycling, disposal, extended producer responsibility scheme) and as regards detailed description of certain requirements (e.g. EPR, separate waste collection, waste management plans, etc).

Both PPWD and WFD are being currently reviewed, both reviews implementing broader carbon reduction and sustainability commitments from the Green Deal and the new CEAP, but with different timelines for their finalisation.

Measures to prevent and reduce the generation of waste and increase circularity of products are at the centre of both reviews. The WFD review’s relevance for packaging will for instance relate to possible new definitions of recycling, which will re-consider the role of chemical recycling in the waste hierarchy, possible new requirements and further harmonisation of the separate waste collection and as regards the EPR, in particular for on-line sales.

As regards the separate waste collection in context of the new PPW legislation, it is foreseen to provide for a harmonised labelling for consumer sorting of waste. However, as the adoption of the system of labels is likely to be broader than packaging only, it is proposed that the implementing act – envisaged in the PPWD review – and detailing the exact symbols for consumer disposal of packaging is adopted after the revision of the WFD as an overarching measure.

Furthermore, both PPWD and WFD will introduce further waste prevention measures and possible targets. Given the early stage of WFD revision, it is premature to speculate on these measures, but it can be considered that the envisaged waste prevention measures targets under the PPWD’s review will contribute to the reduction of municipal waste, which is one of the objectives of the WFD’s revision.

Further, Members States must meet targets for the preparing of municipal waste for re-use and recycling; also under the PPWD, packaging recycling targets must be met. Currently, packaging waste constitutes 1/3 of municipal solid waste, so updating packaging legislation in view of reducing packaging waste generation and increasing and improving recycling, will contribute to meeting the WFD’s objectives. For example, under the new PPW legislation, Member States and/or producers will be obligated to ensure that (i) certain plastic packaging placed on the market contains a certain amount of recycled content and (ii) that all packaging is recyclable. There will also be measures requiring better collection and labelling for disposal of packaging. These measures are therefore going to help Member States to meet their targets under the WFD as they are going to ensure more and better quality recycling of packaging, which will reduce residual municipal waste and increase recycling rates.

Furthermore, under the PPWD, by end of 2024, Member States are to ensure that producer responsibility schemes are established for all packaging. Article 8a of WFD lays down general minimum requirements for EPR which would also apply to those schemes; providing for transparency, accountability and common principles for cost coverage. The review of the PPWD envisages further harmonisation of certain EPR reporting requirements for packaging, so to ease administrative burden for Member States. The initiative furthermore envisages a harmonisation of EPR fee modulation criteria for packaging, thus implementing the mandate under Art. 8a(5), third sub-paragraph, of WFD. The harmonised criteria will be adopted via implementing measures. Further measures to support the effective functioning of EPR schemes are also planned to be considered to apply in a horizontal way under the review of the WFD, in particular to tackle general EPR free-riding of on-line market places participants. This would then also apply to packaging for which it would be highly relevant.

4

Single-use plastics (SUP) Directive

Legislative or non-legislative?

Legislative, obligatory Status: Directive in force.

Brief description

The SUP Directive 27 targets the 10 single-use plastic items most commonly found on Europe’s beaches, as they represent 86% of SUP items and 43% of all marine litter. The Directive has the objective to prevent and reduce the impact of the littering of certain SUP and fishing gear, on the environment, in particular the aquatic environment, and on human health.

The measures envisaged in the SUP Directive are proportionate and were established upon consideration of availability of more sustainable alternatives. Therefore, the Directive prohibits placing on the market of certain SUP items (cotton bud sticks, cutlery, plates, straws, beverage stirrers, balloons sticks, food containers made of expanded polystyrene, beverage containers made of expanded polystyrene and cups for beverages made of expanded polystyrene), and limits the use of other SUP items (cups for beverages, including their covers and lids, and food containers), by other legal instruments, such as design or labelling requirements, consumers’ awareness-raising, or introducing waste management and clean-up obligations for producers, including EPR schemes.

The SUP Directive obliges Member States to meet separate collection targets for plastic bottles and to ensure that beverage bottles contain the indicated amount of recycled content. Further, the directive prohibits Member States from placing a range of single-use plastics on the market, the only remaining single-use plastic that is related to packaging is polystyrene containers for takeaway food and beverages, which makes up a tiny fraction of the overall market for plastic packaging. Furthermore, as regards consumption reduction for concerned single use plastics, the directive does not provide for specific quantitative targets (the target for quantitative reduction of LPCBs is optional).

Interaction with the PPWD revision

Both acts aims to restrict negative environmental impact of certain products present on the European market. While PPWD targets management of packaging and packaging waste, SUP focuses on waste prevention, in relation to single-use plastic products that are most found on the beaches, fishing gear containing plastic and oxo-degradable plastics.

From the legal point of view, the two instruments differ in that PPWD is based on the internal market legal basis (Art. 114 TFEU) and SUPD on the environmental legal basis (Art. 192 TFEU). The complementarity between PPWD and SUPD rules is recognized, as both pursue a the same broad policy objective, but the SUPD addresses only a part of all plastic packaging.

Some of the products placed on the market, which simultaneously satisfy the conditions for classification as packaging and single use plastics fall within the scope of both acts. Examples of such products include food and beverage containers, beverage cups, packets and wrappers and lightweight plastic carrier bags. As a result, measures provided in those two acts are complementing each other; possible conflicts result from different legal bases, which requires a careful interpretation of the Member States’ limits of discretion when implementing various bans and other restrictions for single use plastic packaging, in particular when they want to go beyond the provision of the SUP Directive.

The areas of potential interlinkages between PPWD and SUPD are many, in particular, certification, verification and reporting on recycled content targets in plastic packaging, EPR schemes and their scope, collection targets and mandatory DRS, as well as labelling. Of particular relevance are also issues related to the mandate for the future evaluation of the SUP Directive (possible new bans and restrictions for plastic packaging items, consideration of the environmental benefits of change of materials and/or switches to reusable business models, the status of biodegradable plastic packaging).

SUP requires attainment of target of 25 % and 30 % of recycled plastic content for certain beverage bottles placed on the market by 2025 and 2030 respectively with an implementing act specifying the related calculation, verification and reporting requirements planned for adoption in 2022 Common solutions will be sought as regards the calculation and verification of recycled content targets. By 2030 the beverage bottles covered under the SUPD are expected to account for 17% of plastic packaging placed on the market but due to the target will be responsible for 32% of the total recycled content used in plastic packaging overall. The lack of a recycled content target for other plastic packaging therefore creates a disproportionate amount of PET bottle recycling (also due to the 90% collection target).

PPWD revision envisages harmonisation of the criteria for packaging EPR fee modulation based on design for recycling approaches. The design of this measure should take into account if and how it will affect the EPR scheme provided for in the SUP Directive.

Member States react with different intensities and some inconsistency in their implementation of the Directive. This has led to the fragmentation of the internal market in the EU with only 13 Member States out of the total having implemented the restriction under the SUP directive 28 . In recent years, several Member State have notified under the TRIS notification system (Directive 2015/1535 on the procedure to prevent technical barriers to trade between Member States) national measures taken to implement the SUPD that clearly deviates from harmonised PPWD measures and represent a barrier to intra EU trade and thus further justify reinforcement of harmonised pan-European measures at the level of PPWD.

As regards labelling the two legal acts will in principle not overlap as SUP addresses labelling only for single use plastic products that are not packaging (wet wipes, tobacco products or sanitary towels) while revision of PPWD will aim at harmonisation of labelling on collection and disposal routes for waste packaging.

The future revision of the SUP Directive will have to take into account the revised PPWD and any additional restrictions and bans that will be adopted thereunder, as both legal acts can regulate restrictions on plastic packaging items.

5

Food contact materials 29

Legislative or non-legislative?

Legislative, mandatory. Status: Regulation in force and under revision (2023)

Brief description

Materials and articles intended to come into direct or indirect contact with food (Food Contact Materials (FCMs)) are subject to a separate regulatory regime. In order to be placed on the market, the FCMs must be compatible with:

ogeneral requirements laid down in: (i) FCMs Regulation 30 ;

ospecific manufacture and marketing requirements laid down in various (ii) Commission Regulations. 

The FCMs Regulation outlines a general framework of the FCMs’ regulatory regime. The Act sets out generic rules and procedures in terms of safety criteria, labelling, and traceability of the FCMs through all stages of manufacture, processing and distribution. FCM Regulation obliges Member States to ensure compliance with the rules on the national level by setting up relevant sanctions for their infringements and ensuring an efficient scheme of official audits inspections. The system so designed provides a high level of protection of human health and consumer safety and contributes to effective functioning of the internal market.

The Commission has adopted a number of Regulations laying down further, specific requirements for certain FCMs, i.e. plastics (also recycled), ceramics, regenerated cellulose film, and active and intelligent materials. Such specific requirements were established for instance in the Commission Regulation (EU) No 10/2011 31 for plastics. Annex I of this Regulation sets out the Union list of authorized substances which can be employed in the manufacture of plastic layers in plastic materials and articles intended for contact with food. Substances not included in the Union list must go through a permitting process in order to be authorized for use. Similar logic was followed in case of recycled plastic, for which specific requirements were established in Commission Regulation (EC) No 282/2008 32 with the difference that a substance is not authorized by inclusion on an official list in a legal act, but by decisions, which addresses a specific recycling process.

Revision of the FCMs legislation was announced in May 2020 as part of the Farm to Fork Strategy. It is intended to accelerate the transition to a sustainable food system and to make food systems fair, healthy and environmentally friendly. FCMs legislation will be revised to improve food safety and public health, and examine ways to create a sustainable food labelling framework.

The Commission has launched a revision procedure of the FCMs Regulation with adoption foreseen for Q2/2023. The Regulation as it stands targets individual substances and materials. The revision will refocus on other types of materials (e.g. “organic/synthetic” FCM: plastics, rubbers or “natural” FCM such as wood, paper and board). This approach will improve efficiency of the regulation. To improve FCM’s safety and sustainability, the Commission will set up rules aimed at better addressing full characteristics of final materials and articles. The proposed legislation will more thoroughly address the issue of food safety and enhance rules on Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP). In addition, legislation shall focus on all substances that may pose a risk to consumers including non-intentionally added substances. What is more, emphasis will be put on support of safer and more sustainable alternatives. The Commission will focus on development of new methodologies and rules to ensure that new production methods can be assessed more efficiently, and will implement measures expanding rules to support safe re-use and recycling (ensuring that risk of contamination is excluded). Lastly, the new provisions will improve supply chain information to ensure the quality and accessibility of data.

Legislative work is also ongoing on the adoption of an act that will establish new specific requirements for recycled plastic and repeal current Commission Regulation (EC) No 282/2008.

Interaction with the PPWD revision

Both legal frameworks address relevant aspects of packaging on the EU market. However, their scope differs as PPWD addresses management of packaging and packaging waste from the environmental perspective, while FCMs legislation focuses on human health and safety aspects of packaging as a food contact material. Thus, primarily food packaging has to meet requirements set up by both the regulatory regimes.

The topics where possible legislative overlaps may occur, as they fall within the scope of both of these regulatory regimes are: (i) recycling, (ii) requirements regarding the composition of packaging, (iii) labelling and (iv) reuse of packaging.

The PPWD obliges Member States to attain minimum recycling targets for materials contained in packaging waste. The new legislative proposal on PPW intends to additionally impose recycled content targets on economic operators placing packaging on the EU market. At the same time, new requirements to be met during manufacturing of recycled plastic materials and articles before they are placed on the market will be introduced by Commission’s new Regulation establishing specific requirements on recycled plastic materials and articles intended to come into contact with foods. Particular emphasis will be placed on the source of recycling material that will have to originate from waste collected separately. Autonomous ‘separate collection’ definition will be introduced for the purpose of this act requiring e.g. business operators to set up quality assurance systems which would ensure traceability of each batch of waste. What is crucial is that the acts will not be compatible with each other as regards the concept of recycled materials — what can be regarded as recycled on the basis of new legislative proposal on PPW may not meet the definition under the food packaging regime.

It is not possible to predict at this stage how this new requirement will affect market availability of recycled food packaging material, however its decline cannot be excluded during adaptation period. For this reason, the recycled content targets for plastic packaging will be differentiated based on contact sensitivity, which substantially lower targets set for food contact packaging.

The new legislation on PPW will define the term “recyclable”. As this definition would not cover determination that the recycled material should be used for the same purpose as it was used primarily, no inconsistencies with the FCM legislation on this point have been identified. They may however arise if both legislative acts would include the definition of ‘recycler’, which will need coordination in the legal drafting phase. In addition, the new PPW legislation would include a provision stating directly, that any packaging being a food contact material, needs also to meet the more stringent criteria established under the FCM Regulation and the proposed definition of recyclable packaging will include a requirement that whenever possible, a mono-material structure should be preferred and additives should only be used when necessary to perform the core functions of packaging.

Both initiatives aim to increase the safety and sustainability of packaging in terms of its composition. Coordination between FCMs and PPWD legal drafting teams in this regard will ensure complementarity and alignment. It is necessary to assure that the assumptions and requirements are not mutually exclusive and, as far as possible, do not adversely affect the objectives pursued by each act. One of the areas where such coordination will be particularly important concerns the introduction of requirements under which some packaging will have to be obligatorily compostable, as some of these applications would be food contact materials. It was agreed to include a rule in the PPWR stating that all compostable packaging, which are FCM, must be compliant also with FCM legislation.

The FCMs Regulation sets up rules on labelling and traceability so that products complying with the chemical safety requirements required for FCMs bear a distinctive mark and can be easily distinguished by the consumer. Article 13 in the PPWD requires Member States to provide packaging users with various information relating to the return, collection and recovery systems but there are no existing mandatory requirements on the labelling of packaging as recyclable. Furthermore, Article 8 PPWD provides for harmonised, yet voluntary marking of materials contained in packaging. Revision of PPWD aims at further harmonising labelling related to packaging to ensure that divergent national requirements do not set barriers to the internal market and create competitive disadvantages while at the same time increasing packaging recycling. The most novel will be harmonisation of mandatory labels for consumer disposal of packaging and harmonisation of voluntary labels for recycled content in packaging. This last topic will be moved from the current Commission Regulation (EC) No 282/2008 to PPWD. In addition, labelling of reusable packaging will be introduced in the PPW act, which bears some inpact on the measure contemplated under the revised FCM legislation. As both the packaging and food are excluded from the scope of the ESP Regulation, either of these new acts should contain provisions similar to those regarding Digital Product Passport included in the ESP Regulation.

As reuse of packaging, the PPWD revision will set more precise definitions and possible mandates for future standards or implementing measures to promote reuse. It is also being considered to set reuse targets in specific sectors, such as HoReCa and introduce rules on standardisation of reusable packaging formats. The implementation of these requirements and any packaging waste prevention or reuse targets will need to take due account of human hygiene and safety requirements which will be defined in the future revision of the FCMs legislation. It was agreed that DG SANTE will support DG ENV once this part of the legislation is worked on (e.g. standardisation requests), with respect to food packaging, so that such standards cover issues of hygiene, and traceability (labelling). Similarly, DG SANTE will be involved in the preparation of the minimum requirements on the deposit and return systems in the legal drafting phase, to ensure that their policy objectives regarding human health protection are properly addressed.

Some measures envisaged under the new PPW legislation will enhance the achievement of objectives of the FCM legislation e.g. establishment of mandatory and minimal requirements for DRS would result in obtaining cleaner materials fit for recycling in the meaning of FCM regulations and free from hazardous substances.

6

Chemicals in products -

Regulation on Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) 33  

Legislative or non-legislative?

Legislative, mandatory. Status: Regulation in force and under revision, to be adopted in Q4 2022.

Brief description

Existing EU chemicals legislation (particularly on Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) 34 , and on Classification, Labelling and Packaging of substances and mixtures (CLP) 35 , complemented via sectoral legislation) offer the legislative tools for regulating the placing on the market, use and, where appropriate, restricting substances in the EU on the basis of chemical safety considerations. REACH aims to ensure a high level of protection of human health and the environment from risks resulting from the intrinsic properties of chemical substances (mostly identified under CLP), as well as the free circulation of substances on the internal market, while enhancing competitiveness and innovation.

REACH is organised around four processes, namely the registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals. Manufacturers and importers of substances are generally required to gather information on the properties of their chemical substances, which will allow their safe handling, and, for substances produced in quantities exceeding 1 tonne per year, to register this and other information in a central database. The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) is empowered to assess the completeness and compliance of the registrations during the evaluation process. Most important for the PPWD, the manufacturing, placing on the market or use of a substance (also when included in articles such as packaging) can be linked to information requirements in the supply chain (see section on ‘Tracking substances in products’), to an authorisation procedure, or to compliance with the conditions of a restriction.

Authorisation applies to the placing on the market and use of substances of very high concern (e.g. carcinogenic or very-persistent-and-very-bio-accumulative substances), aiming at their progressive substitution by less hazardous substances and by subjecting their use to specific conditions.

Restrictions included in REACH Annex XVII prohibit or limit the manufacturing, placing on the market and use of certain substances (varying from a complete ban to a restricted use under specific conditions), including as part of ‘articles’. Restrictions can be adopted in case of an unacceptable risk to human health or the environment (Art.68(1)), following a dedicated procedure involving the agency ECHA (Art. 69-73), or, in cases of substances classified under specific categories of carcinogenicity, germ cell mutagenicity or reproductive toxicity and present in consumer articles (Art. 68(2))

The recently adopted Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability 36 announces the targeted revision of the REACH Regulation (as well as that of CLP and sectoral chemicals legislation), which will be limited to achieving the specific aims set out in the strategy (adoption of a proposal is currently planned for Q4 2022). Options include amongst others:

oExtending the generic approach to risk management (currently in REACH Art 68(2), restrictions based on hazardousness) to other categories of substances;

oSimplifying the authorisation procedure;

oStrengthening enforcement.

It is important to note that the policy commitments in the strategy do not include any measures to broaden the scope of REACH beyond its current focus on chemical safety of substances, mixtures and articles to include also other sustainability aspects. Therefore, the revision of REACH will not offer a basis to better manage packaging when it becomes waste (waste is excluded from the scope of REACH).

Interaction with the PPWD revision

Article 11 of the PPWD restricts the use of four heavy metals in packaging (lead, cadmium, mercury and hexavalent chromium), but it does not provide for any further specific restrictions on the use of chemicals, Annex II, Section 1, 3rd indent of the PPWD stipulates that packaging shall be so manufactured that the presence of noxious and other hazardous substances and materials (….) is minimized (…).

REACH does not allow for the restriction of a substance for reasons other than chemical safety even if, in certain cases, restrictions can have an impact beyond safety e.g. lead to an improvement on sustainability aspects other than chemical safety (e.g. recyclability, composability). REACH could be the instrument used to restrict the manufacturing, placing on the market and use of substances of concern used in packaging but maintaining such restrictions under the PPWD is also an option under consideration. The scope in terms of the types of substances concerned and the approach and legal instrument to restrict substances of concern in packaging are analysed in this impact assessment.

7

Tracking chemicals in products -

REACH (Art. 33), WFD (Art. 9), and the CLP Regulation

Legislative or non-legislative?

Legislative, mandatory.

Brief description

The information flow about the presence of hazardous substances on their own or in mixtures in products is regulated by three pieces of legislation: (i) REACH Regulation 37 , (ii) Waste Framework Directive (WFD) 38 and (iii) the Regulation on Classification, Labelling and Packaging of substances and mixture (CLP) 39 .

Annex VI to the CLP Regulation contains a list of harmonized classifications for around 7,000 hazardous substances. Substances of Very High Concern (SVHCs) are specified in the so-called “Candidate List” of substances of very high concern for Authorisation, which is publicly available on a website of the European Chemical Agency (ECHA).

If SVHCs are present in an article in the concertation above 0.1 % by weight (w/w), the actor placing the article on the market is required to provide relevant information in this regard to: (i) to the next recipient in supply chain and to (ii) European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), respectively, as stipulated in provisions discussed below.

Article 9(2) WFD mandated ECHA to establish a database with information on articles containing SVHC. The database is called SCIP (Substances of Concern In articles as such or in complex objects (Products)) and since 5 January 2021 suppliers of articles, including those used as packaging, containing SVHCs in a concentration above 0.1% weight by weight (w/w) must provide the information pursuant to Article 33(1) of REACH to the database. This process is referred to as ‘SCIP notification’.

Pursuant to Article 7(2) REACH, producers and importers must notify to ECHA SVHCs in articles when the substance is present above a concentration of 0.1% (w/w) and if the substance is present in articles in quantities totalling over one tonne per year.

Article 33(1) of the REACH Regulation requires suppliers of articles containing substances identified as SVHC in a concentration above 0.1 % (w/w) to pass on sufficient information on the substances contained in the article (as a minimum, the name of the substances) down the supply chain to allow safe use. Suppliers of articles are also required to provide such information to consumers upon request (Article 33(2) REACH).

Interaction with the PPWD revision

Increasing the sustainability of packaging and the safety of materials recycled from packaging, both for human health and for the environment, may require imposing restriction on substances of concern used in packaging including, for instance, risk management measures either in the product or in the waste phase.

In order to identify candidate substances towards potential restrictions in packaging, it is important to have information regarding the presence of certain types of hazardous substances in packaging, including SVHCs. The classification and labelling provisions in CLP Regulation and supply chain information flow requirements in Article 33 of REACH and Article 9 of the WFD all can contribute to obtaining the relevant information to screen and identify such substances currently in use in packaging.

8

Green Public Procurement 40

Legislative or non-legislative?

Legislative, voluntary. Status: Revision of mandate to develop packaging specific GPP criteria.

Brief description

Green Public Procurement (GPP) is a process whereby public authorities seek to procure goods, services and works with a reduced environmental impact throughout their life cycle when compared to goods, services and works with the same primary function that would otherwise be procured. EU GPP is currently a voluntary instrument, and Member States and public authorities can determine the extent to which they implement it. Since 2008, the Commission has developed more than 20 common GPP criteria.

Interaction with the PPWD revision

Common EU GPP criteria have been developed for priority products and services identified to be most suitable for “greening” through public procurement (such as: computers, textiles, catering and cleaning services). However, these criteria tend to focus on mitigating the negative impacts arising from the products or services themselves, and do not, in general, include criteria aimed at tackling the impact of any associated packaging. Although in most cases the impact of the product or service outweighs that of the packaging, the impacts associated with the packaging are not negligible and should not be ignored.

Whilst packaging requirements have historically featured within GPP criteria for some product groups (for example, criteria for ensuring recyclability and separability of packaging materials, use of packaging materials based on renewable raw materials), more recent updated versions of EU GPP guidance have not included criteria addressing packaging impacts specifically.

The new legislative initiative on PPW envisages setting up of mandatory GPP criteria for packaging delivered for public procurement contracts for priority products and services. Other measures were also considered such as setting up of GPP criteria for packaging for all products and services as well as updating of current voluntary set of GPP criteria to include packaging. This will be a change from the currently voluntary system – the GPP criteria which are currently in place are not legally binding on Member States. Reform of this system would require inclusion of a mandate to develop packaging specific GPP criteria in the new legislative proposal on PPW. It is envisaged that JRC would be the entity responsible for developing additional criteria for packaging, which will be implemented via a legal act adopted by the Commission. Such criteria will create an obligation of compliance on the part of the Member States’ procurement authorities. As the current GPP criteria a not binding and are mostly outstanding as far as packaging is concerned, there will be no conflict with the current legal set-up.

9

Plastic Own-Resource 41

Legislative or non-legislative?

Legislative, obligatory. Status: Council Decision and Regulation in force.

Brief description

There are four main types of revenues which constitute own resources entered in the Union budget as laid down in Article 2(1) of Council Decision 2020/2053 42 :

o“traditional” (such as: Common Customs Tariff, levies, premiums);

o the VAT-based (rate of 0.30 % for all Member States to the total amount of collected VAT);

othe GNI-based (counted as uniform percentage of Member States’ GNI);

oplastic own resource.

The latter became binding on 1 January 2021. As of that date, Member States are obliged to pay an additional levy to the EU budget based on quantity of plastic packaging waste that was not recycled multiplied by a rate of EUR 0.80 per kilogram. The amount of non-recycled plastic is calculated as a difference between: (i) the weight of the plastic packaging waste generated in a Member State in a given year and (ii) the weight of the plastic packaging waste recycled in that year. The data on quantity of generated and recycled waste comes from Member States’ annual reporting performed in accordance with provisions of the Article 12 PPWD and Commission Decision 2005/270/EC 43 . Financial contributions of some of the Member States are subject to a lump sum reduction in order to avoid overcharge of less wealthy Member States. The measure aims at incentivising recycling of plastics and transition towards circular economy.

Spain and Italy have since indicated that they intend to generate revenue from plastic packaging introducing a tax rate of €450 per tonne but for all single-use/non-reusable/non-recycled plastic packaging. Both of these could be seen as a reaction to the requirements of the SUPD (consumption reduction) and go partway to paying for the plastics own resource contribution. Exemptions in Italy are limited to medical devices, medicines and compostable plastics, whereas Spain excludes plastic packaging for medicines, sanitary products, food for special medical purposes and infant formula for hospital use.

Interaction with the PPWD revision

The link between the acts lies in the fact that the PPWD constitutes a legal basis for reporting obligation encompassing the data necessary for the calculation of the plastic own-resource, i.e. one of the component of national contributions to EU budget own resource 44 . Member States are legally required to send data pertaining to their packaging generation to Eurostat. This data is obtained by Member States either through EPR schemes for packaging, which oblige national operators to report on packaging and packaging waste management and/or via waste analyses. For the Member States that have not indicated the implementation of a national tax (i.e. the contribution will be absorbed by their own budget), the impact on plastic waste generation and recycling is likely to be very minimal. For Spain and Italy, there will be an incentive from 2023 for packaging producers to incorporate more recycled plastic in packaging as the tax rate is likely to be higher than the increased cost of recycled material. There is also an incentive in Italy to increase the use of compostable plastics although market penetration for these materials is already higher than any other EU country. However, it is unclear how the markets in those countries will respond particularly for applications that are more difficult to include recycled content (e.g. food packaging) .

One of the measure envisaged for revision of PPWD is modification of the scope of data transmitted under the EPR schemes with the primary objective of making them more consistent and create a more accurate overview of the EU packaging market. As this might increase the granularity of data reported, it will have a positive impact on the data available to the Member States and the Commission in the calculation of the plastic own-resource contribution. However, the amendment mentioned above should not affect the calculation of the amount of a country’s contribution to the EU budget based on the amount of non-recycled plastic packaging waste; the data needed to calculate them will continue to be reported by the Member States.

Furthermore, the upcoming definition and methodology of assessment of packaging recyclability will drive up the recycling rate of plastic packaging and help MS meet the plastic packaging recycling targets. It will thus reduce the relative weight of Member States’ contribution to the EU budget based on the plastic own resource.

Mutually reinforcing, both initiatives will drive down the proportion of non-recyclable plastic packaging put on the EU market.

10

Green Claims 45

Legislative or non-legislative?

Legislative, voluntary. Status: Regulation to be adopted.

Brief description

The Green Claims initiative (“GCI”) was announced by the European Green Deal, the new Circular Economy Action Plan 46 and the New Consumer Agenda 47 . It aims to ensure that environmental claims are substantiated based on reliable, comparable and verifiable information. The initiative will apply horizontally to claims related to products (goods and services), food and non-food, and organisations, both B2C and B2B. It does not cover social sustainability.

The Green Claims Initiative will introduce a set of minimum requirements for green claims and governance criteria for environmental labels. These complement the Empowering the Consumer for the Green Transition initiative and its modifications to the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive, namely on practices that are considered unfair in all circumstances. Minimum criteria will be linked to the reliability, comparability and verifiability of information, in line with the objectives of the initiative. The criteria are general, so they apply also to packaging claims:

oThe initiative will include minimum criteria on claims. They are general, so they apply also to packaging claims: The environmental claim is based on robust, independent, verifiable and generally recognised evidence which considers the latest scientific findings.

oThe environmental claim is clear and unambiguous regarding which aspects of the product or its life cycle or which aspects of the trader’s operation, as applicable, the claim refers to.

oAny environmental claim related to future environmental performance shall be based on firm commitments with clear targets and timescales, with involvement of a heterogeneous group of stakeholders and ensured third party monitoring of those commitments.

oThe environmental claim shall provide a link to the information on which the substantiation of the claim is based. The link may take the form of a weblink, QR code or barcode. This information shall include the method used, whether verification was carried out by an independent party (and if yes, by which party), and proof of the correctness of the claim. The latter may be proved by providing the study, indicators, results and/or explanations underpinning the claim.

oThere must be a link to the additional information on which the substantiation of the claim is based (e.g. method used, whether third party verification is being carried out etc.).

In addition, the Green Claims initiative will introduce requirements of a more technical nature on how voluntary green claims are made related to products and organizations (including companies). It will include measures on substantiating and communicating voluntary environmental claims on environmental impacts 48 or overall or life cycle environmental performance relying on the PEF and OEF methods 49 or, if existing, related Product Environmental Footprint Category Rules (PEFCR) and Organisation Environmental Footprint Sector Rules 50 (OEFSR). The Green Claims Initiative will furthermore include requirements related to the development of PEFCRs/OEFSRs, to verification, data governance and existing ecolabels. This will in turn lead to an improvement in the reliability, verifiability, and comparability of claims falling within its scope.

Within the Environmental Footprint methods, for the packaging industry, the following industry-specific guidelines are recommended for considering recycled content when calculating environmental impacts at the end of life (circular footprint formula):

oFor the container glass industry: the European Commission Regulation No 1179/2012. This regulation requests a statement of conformity delivered by the cullet producer.

oFor the paper industry: European Recovered Paper Identification System (CEPI – Confederation of European Paper Industries, 2008). This document prescribes rules and guidance on necessary information and steps, with a delivery note that shall be received at the reception of the mill.

oFor beverage cartons no recycled content is used so far. If needed, the same guidelines as for paper shall be used as being most suitable (beverage cartons are covered by a recovered paper grade category under the European list of wastepaper grades, EN643).

oFor the plastics industry: EN standard 15343:2007. This standard prescribes rules and guidelines on traceability. The supplier of the recyclate is requested to provide specific information.

When using company-specific recycled content (R1) values other than 0, traceability throughout the supply chain is mandatory. The following general guidelines shall be followed:

oThe supplier information (through e.g., statement of conformity or delivery note) shall be maintained during all stages of production and delivery at the converter.

oOnce the material is delivered to the converter for production of the end products, the converter shall handle information through their regular administrative procedures.

oThe converter for production of the end products claiming recycled content shall demonstrate through its management system the percentage [%] of recycled input material into the respective end product(s).

oThe latter demonstration shall be transferred upon request to the user of the end product. In case a PEF profile is calculated and reported, this shall be stated as additional technical information of the PEF profile.

oIndustry- or company-owned traceability systems may be applied as long as they cover the general guidelines outlined above. If not, they shall be supplemented with the general guidelines above.

The minimum requirements have implications for environmental labels in general. Although the GCI only applies to voluntary claims (thus, not labels required or regulated by EU law), coherence with best practice should be considered. For example, the GCI will require that a claim always contains a reference to the method used (relevant, for example, for a recyclability label), state whether third party verification was done and include a link (e.g., through a weblink, QR code or barcode) to information substantiating the claim. It encourages numerical values only in cases when they can be compared.

Interaction with the PPWD revision

The PPWD encourages the provision of information for consumers. The GCI is expected to complement the act on PPW and may cover packaging as a final or intermediate product.

There are also some interlinkages between the green claims and the initiative on PPW as regards the measuring and traceability of plastic recycled content. The packaging legislative act will mandate the development of a harmonised approach to the calculation, verification and reporting of recycled content in plastic packaging. Under the environmental footprint, recycled content is taken into account as input information to calculate the impacts of the packaging material. However, the focus is on the impacts, and it is not meant to “certify” (and therefore substantiate) the recycled content of a product/packaging. In the PEF method, there are references to a few standards when detailing how to take account of recycled content. These standards and rules will be taken into account when developing the packaging related rules, but it is possible that the environmental footprint rules will need to adapt in the future.

For certain types of claims (for instance, regarding conditions in which possible comparisons of the environmental performance of the packaging are allowed and can be substantiated by the EF methods), the GCI is expected to act as a lex specialis. 

As regards labelling, the GCI and PPWD rules will be mutually reinforcing.

If, in the future, the GCI will prioritise claims related to recycled content and consider introducing detailed requirements (e.g. on how to substantiate, communicate and verify them). It will build upon the provisions related to recycled content in packaging defined in the PPW legislation. Any methodological aspects set up within the context of the initiative on PPW would be considered as a starting point for any methodological requirements to be developed under GCI.

At the same time, the EF methods may underpin some of the measure under consideration in the revision of the Directive (such as demonstrate that compostable plastic is the preferred material for a particular application or calculate the minimum number of re-uses to achieve a packaging that performs better environmentally than a single use packaging item). Methodological coherence would therefore be ensured.

11

Empowering the Consumer for the Green Transition 51  

Legislative or non-legislative?

Legislative, obligatory. Status: Directive to be adopted.

Brief description

This Directive will aim at:

oenhancing consumer information aspects at the point of sale, in particular the fact that consumers lack reliable information for choosing more environmentally sustainable products; and

oprotecting consumers against certain unfair commercial practices in relation to sustainable purchase, such as greenwashing, early obsolescence of consumer goods and non-transparent sustainability labels or digital tools.

The measures under the Initiative on Empowering the Consumer for the Green Transition builds upon the existing EU horizontal consumer law framework9. Once finally adopted, the initiative will result in targeted amendments by “greening” existing consumer law (i.e. the Consumer Rights Directive and the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive). The initiative regulates the provision of information on the environmental characteristics of products in particular about two aspects relevant to environmental sustainability, namely durability and reparability.

Furthermore, it will also explicitly identify certain greenwashing and early obsolescence practices in the “Annex I” of the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive, i.e. the blacklist of commercial practices that are prohibited under all circumstances.

Interaction with the PPWD revision

With certain exceptions, the two consumer law directives amended by this initiative, apply across all economic sectors. Due to their general scope, they apply to many aspects of business-to-consumer transactions that may also be covered by other, more specific EU legislation in different areas. The interplay between the different instruments of Union law is regulated by the lex specialis principle. Under this principle, the general consumer law directives apply whenever the relevant aspects of business-to-consumer transactions are not regulated by more specific provisions of EU law. Thus, the general consumer law directives work as a ‘safety net’, ensuring that a high level of consumer protection can be maintained in all sectors, complementing and filling gaps in sector-specific Union law. The PPWD is such sector-specific Union Law.

The initiative will not regulate claims/marking aiming at informing consumers of correct disposal of packaging, as such claims and labelling are envisaged to be covered by the PPWD. The new legislative proposal on PPW will mandate Commission to come up with harmonised symbols for disposal of packaging, matching with marking placed on container/bag where is should be disposed. Implementation of such measure is linked to the review of Waste Framework Directive (and a separate waste collection model harmonisation).

The revised PPWD will also include a measure to restrict the ways in which information on the subjects covered by the PPWD labelling measures (material composition, sorting information, reusability, recycled content) can be communicated and prevent MS, EPR schemes and producer responsibility organisations (PROs) from mandating their own labelling systems in these areas. This measure will complement the Green Claims initiative, which will reduce confusion resulting from wider environmental labelling or brand and design choices (factors beyond the scope of PPWD).

12

Policy framework on biobased, biodegradable and compostable plastics 52

Legislative or non-legislative?

Non-legislative; adoption envisaged in 2022

Brief description

Policy framework on biobased, biodegradable and compostable plastics will aim to address:

obiobased plastics (wholly or partly derived from materials of biological origin e.g. biomass) – BBP and,

obiodegradable plastics (plastics with biodegradation properties) and compostable plastics (plastics that only biodegrade in (mostly industrial) composting facilities) - BDCP.

focusing on sourcing, labelling and use of BBP that result in genuine environmental benefits, and on use of BDCP plastics that is beneficial to the environment.

BBP and BDCP present similarities but also differences, which makes their understanding challenging. Concerning BDCP, current legislation does not ensure access to clear, complete and trustworthy information to consumers and end users. In particular, insufficient information on the type of plastics and associated disposal pathway may lead to wrong disposal choices, which in turn may result in contamination of both recycling streams i.e. contamination of compost by conventional, non-biodegradable plastics and, although to a lesser extent, contamination of conventional plastics by compostable ones, reducing the potential for plastics circularity. Other unintended effects could be reduced environmental concerns (which in turn may lead to more material consumption) and increased littering (it might be more acceptable to litter biodegradable items, and also conventional ones if no distinction is made between similar products).

The initiative aims to clarify the role that BBP, BDCP can play in commitments on a carbon neutral and circular economy. It will help improve the understanding of the full lifecycle environmental impacts of these plastics as well as the applications which are likely to be the most appropriate. The following measures will be considered:

ofor both BBP and BDCP - establishing clear definitions and overarching principles;

ofor BBP, clarifying the measurement method and labelling of the part of a plastic product that is entirely or partly derived from biomass (the ‘biobased’ content);

ofor BDCP, clarifying definitions, applications and criteria for its applications, as well as the role of testing, labelling and certification to ensure effective biodegradation, alignment with actual disposal infrastructure, and better information to consumers.

The recommendations set out in the policy framework will take stock of the years of work on BBP and BDCP and guide their use in the European market. The proposal is planned to be published in the Q3 of 2022.

Interaction with the PPWD revision

Both the policy framework and PPW legislation will aim at addressing use of compostable plastics. However, the framework will only outline proposed solutions as to the role of these plastics in a circular economy and the conditions under which their use may be beneficial. It will not make their use mandatory (as it is not legislative in nature). The solutions proposed in the PPWD will be binding on the Member States and require implementation at national level.

The ongoing work of both teams is conducted in a close cooperation. The proposed measures (for PPWD) and recommendations (in case of the framework) are developed based on the same scientific materials in order to ensure their reciprocal compliance. The following publications were employed by both of the teams: “Relevance of biodegradable and compostable consumer plastic products and packaging in a circular economy” 53 by Eunomia, and “Biodegradability of plastics in the open environment” 54 by Group of Chief Scientific Advisors.

It is important that both instruments remain consistent with the terminology used and that decisions on the general approach to specific issues regarding compostable packaging are taken jointly. It has been agreed on so far that Standard EN 13432 requires an urgent update. Update is necessary in order to specify concepts of biodegradability and compostability, and to ensure that actual composting conditions currently occurring within European biowaste treatment facilities are taken into account.

Both acts are intended to improve quality of information provided to consumers through labelling in view of improving recycling, composting and reducing littering of plastic items to the environment. For this purpose uniform and non-misleading labelling of packaging is being considered. The policy framework will focus on the easy distinction between BPP, BDCP and conventional plastic, while PPW legislation will aim at harmonisation of labelling on collection and disposal routes for waste packaging. There may be overlaps between the two initiatives in terms of information on disposal of plastic packaging. However, this will be addressed through cooperation between teams.

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EU Ecolabel 55

Legislative or non-legislative?

Legislative; voluntary

Brief description

The EU Ecolabel is the European Union voluntary label scheme for environmental excellence established in EU Ecolabel Regulation 56 . The award of the label is based on ecological, and for some product categories also social criteria, published as decisions of the European Commission.

Aim of the EU Ecolabel criteria is to limit access to the label to those products (goods or services) that are environmentally best-in-class in the given product group (10-20%). The criteria are developed with the participation of scientists, experts and representatives of all relevant stakeholders, such as the competent bodies of MS, manufacturers, representatives of the industry, and environmental and consumer organisations. Methodology for establishment of criteria relies on life cycle assessment (LCA). LCA method allows identification of environmental impacts and processes of importance for a given product category. Every 5-6 years on average, the criteria are revised to reflect technical innovation such as evolution of materials, production processes or in emission reduction and changes in the market.

The process of conformity assessment of products and services for the EU Ecolabel is carried out by the national competent bodies notified to the European Commission. EU Ecolabel licenses are issued with a validity linked to the reference Commission Decision, the average duration is of around 5 years.

Currently, the EU Ecolabel covers 24 product groups (e.g. detergents, cosmetics, paints, paper, furniture, mattresses, hard coverings, textiles) and 78,071 products in total. The products groups most recently covered by the Eco labelling are: (i) animal care products, (ii) cosmetic products (replacing rinse-off cosmetic products) for which the criteria establishing decisions were published in October 2021.

Interaction with the PPWD revision

Unlike the PPWD, the EU Ecolabel is a voluntary scheme. Its criteria cover only certain groups of products, and packaging requirements do not pertain to all those groups. The PPWD, in contrast, sets up obligatory requirements which cover all packaging placed on the market in the EU.

Packaging related criteria under EU Ecolabel were established for the following ten product groups: - laundry detergents, - dishwasher detergents, - hand dishwashing detergents, - hard surface cleaning products, - lubricants, - industrial and institutional dishwasher detergents, - industrial and international laundry detergents, - animal care products, cosmetic products, footwear.

The established criteria covers in particular: - packaging design, - recyclability, - packaging/ product weight utility ratio, - level of recycled content, or - availability of packaging take back schemes. These general types of criteria translates into more detailed requirements. For instance, in case of cosmetics, no secondary packaging for the product is allowed (packaging design), while plastic packaging of lubricants has to contain post-consumer recycled content at the level of minimum 25% (level of recycled content).

Requirements stemming from EU Ecolabel Regulation and new legislative proposal on PPW may to some extent overlap. Introduction of new requirements concerning PPW such as mandatory recyclability of packaging or certain uptake of recycled content, if not already included in the EU Ecolabel criteria, may result in inconsistencies that will need to be solved. However, given the voluntary basis of the EU Ecolabel, mandatory legislation would in any case apply to EU Ecolabel products, and to this extent, all EU Ecolabel criteria have the following pre-requisite: “As a prerequisite the product shall meet all applicable legal requirements of the country or countries in which the product is placed on the market. The applicant shall declare the product's compliance with this requirement.” There could also be a risk of terminological inconsistencies between both acts. For example, term “recyclability” was defined under EU Ecolabel decisions as: designed to facilitate effective recycling by avoiding potential contaminants and incompatible materials that are known to impede separation or reprocessing or to reduce the quality of recyclate”. Such wording of term “recyclability” does not correspond to any of the proposed options for a definition of “recyclable” (measures 22a-22c) under the revision of the PPWD.

As a result most likely, the EU Ecolabel criteria and definitions will need to be adjusted to the new provisions of PPWD once they come into force. That can be done in two ways - during prospective revisions of the EU Ecolabel criteria for each of the products groups, or through ad hoc amendments of Commission’s decisions establishing EU ecolabel criteria.

14

EU marketing standards for agricultural products

Legislative or non-legislative?

Legislative, voluntary.

Status: Draft delegated regulation (planned to be adopted in third quarter of 2022).

Brief description

The EU marketing standards for agricultural products 57 have been established to address the economic needs of the actors in the chain, including consumers of the products concerned. The initiative to revise these standards 58 is aimed at ensuring the uptake and supply of sustainable products and modernising, simplifying or increasing responsiveness to sustainability considerations laid down in the Farm to Fork strategy 59 . It is intended to provide a more significant role to societal issues such as environmental sustainability or animal welfare.

This initiative covers revision of several directives and adoption of delegated and implementing acts in the field of marketing standards for agricultural products. The Commission intends to adopt a delegated regulation regarding this matter based on Article 75(2) read with Article 227 of the Regulation (EU) No 1308/2013. These provisions empower it to adopt delegated acts on marketing standards, e.g. on products such as fresh fruits and vegetables (F&V), in order to take into account the expectations of consumers and to improve the economic conditions for the production and marketing as well as the quality of the agricultural products. The Commission is also entitled to establish derogations and exemptions from such standards in order to adapt to constantly changing market conditions, evolving consumer demands, developments in relevant international standards and to avoid creating obstacles to product innovation.

Interaction with the PPWD revision

One of the key issues that the revision of PPWD is to tackle is the problem of the growing generation of packaging and packaging waste, due to the increased use of single-use packaging formats and reduced use of reusable packaging.

One of the proposed measures in the PPWD revision will address the issue of ‘unnecessary’ single-use packaging for F&V. This would be done by a legal provision pursuant to which it will not be allowed to use such packaging for fresh F&V of weight less than 1.5 kg unless there is a demonstrated need to avoid water loss or turgidity loss, generation of food waste, microbiological hazards or physical shocks.

Adoption of this measure shall contribute to meeting the waste prevention objective, including supporting the process of switching to reusable or multi-use packaging. It in particular complements, for a specific sector, targets on waste prevention. In view of the fact that Member States legislative initiatives providing for such measures have been adopted recently (France, Spain) or are being considered (Belgium), the measure will also provide for harmonisation and avoid obstacles to the Internal Market which would have arisen by diverging Member States provisions at this respect.

As this matter will be covered by the PPWD revision, it would not need to be addressed in delegated and implementing acts in the field of marketing standards for agricultural products.



Annex 6: The problem analysis

6.1. Problem Tree

The aim of this initiative is to tackle three groups of highly interlinked problems related to packaging and packaging waste (Figure 5).

Figure 5 Overall problem tree

Context 

Green Deal – Transition to a lower carbon, circular economy, Plastic Strategy, Circular Economy Action Plan, Zero Pollution Action Plan 

 

 

Drivers 

Market failures  

- Externalities and fragmented market 

- Information failures (unclear labelling) 

- Suboptimal market structure along the waste value chain 

Regulatory failures  

- Delayed / incorrect transposition of current Directive  

- Essential Requirements poorly designed, unenforceable, and unevenly applied  

- Difficulties of the Member States to ensure compliance with national recycling targets 

- SUPD and ORD only cover plastic packaging, and this partly 

   

 Problems  
(highly interrelated)  

High level of and growing packaging waste: 

- High levels of avoidable packaging 

- Increasing single use packaging 

Barriers to packaging circularity: 

- Packaging design features that inhibit recycling 

- Cross contamination of compostable recycling stream 

- Reuse systems not cost efficient 

- Inconsistent and confusing labelling 

   

  

Consequences 

Environmental impacts 

- Climate impacts 

- Littering 

- Landfill / incineration / export at end life  

- Presence of hazardous substances  

Economic impacts 

- Inefficient use of resources  

- High costs of packaging  

- Inefficient and costly waste management 

 

   

Objectives 

General objective to reduce negative environmental impacts of packaging and packaging waste and improve the functioning of the internal market  

Specific objectives to meet this general objective is:  

1.Reduce the generation of packaging waste 

2.Promote a circular economy for packaging in a cost-efficient way 

3.Promote the uptake of recycled content in packaging 

   

Polity options  

Option 1 – Better standardisation and clearer Essential Requirements 

Option 2 – Mandatory targets for waste reduction, reuse and minimum recycled content in plastic packaging, requirements to ensure full recyclability by 2030 and harmonised product rules 

Option 3 – Higher mandatory targets and additional product requirements 

The first group relates to high and growing level of packaging waste These problems are linked to high level of avoidable packaging and the increase of single-use packaging. Both the efforts made to introduce light-weighting material and the shift in material use, particularly from glass to plastic seem some of the underlining causes hampering improvements in packaging and packaging waste.

The second group of problems relates to barriers to packaging circularity driven by the increase use of packaging design features that inhibit recycling, increased cross-contamination of conventional and compostable recycling streams, lack of information about substances in pacakging that may be hazardous (that potentially constitute a risk for human health and the environment) and incosistent and confusing labelling of recyclable pacakging.

The third group of problems relates to low levels of uptake of recycled content in packaging, which limits the EU's potential to prevent and increase the uptake of recycable packaging. A number of shortcomings in the current regulatory framework are a drag on the profitability of recycling activities and put a strain on investment in technologies and logistic linked to the supply chain to ensure that packaging is available, returned and recycled through better management of distribution. These shortcomings include also a quality risk and a non optimal functioning of markets for secondary raw materials.

6.2. High and growing levels of packaging waste

The Circular Economy Action Plan (CEAP) notes that: 60  

The amount of materials used for packaging is growing continuously and in 2017 packaging waste in Europe reached a record – 173 kg per inhabitant, the highest level ever.

Accordingly, the CEAP states that the Commission will consider measures with a focus on:

Reducing (over)packaging and packaging waste, including by setting targets and other waste prevention measures;

Driving design for re-use […] of packaging, including considering restrictions on the use of some packaging materials for certain applications, in particular where alternative reusable products or systems are possible or consumer goods can be handled safely without packaging;

The quantity of packaging generated within the EU has seen a general upward trend both in absolute terms and in terms of packaging waste generated per capita since the introduction of the PPWD in 1994.

According to Eurostat, around 69 million tonnes of packaging waste were generated in 2005, and an estimated 77.5 million tonnes in 2017 – representing a 12% growth in tonnage of packaging waste generated in the EU in this period 61 . Whilst there has been significant economic growth in this period, packaging waste generation is still increasing faster than GDP.

Figure 6. Trends in Packaging Waste Generation and GDP adjusted by PPP, EU (27 countries - from 2020)

Source: Eunomia baseline report, Eurostat data

Even when accounting for population growth within the EU, packaging waste generated per capita increased from 158 kg per person in 2005 to 174kg per person in 2017 representing a 10% increase over the period (Figure 7).

Figure 7. Trend in Packaging Waste Generation per capita (EU-27 countries)

Source: Eunomia baseline report, Eurostat data

The manufacture of packaging, accounting for both resource extraction and subsequent production processes has a significant impact in terms of carbon emissions, as displayed in Figure 8.



Figure 8. GHG emissions from manufacturing for the packaging materials

Source: Eunomia baseline report

Two key elements of this problem are:

·High levels of avoidable packaging ; and

·An increase in the proportion of packaging that is single-use.

6.3. High levels of avoidable packaging

Light-weighting efforts within material categories have led to a relative increase in packaging material efficiency (i.e. the amount of packaging by weight used for a certain application) on a per unit basis, and this has helped, to an extent, to stem the increase in overall packaging use.

Heavier packaging materials like glass and metal being replaced by plastic and paper. According to Transparency Market Research (TMR) data, a decrease in unit weight has been observed across all packaging types between 1990 and 2015, as shown below 62 reducing by an average 26% in unit weight, with some packaging types reducing by a more significant amount. Moreover, of the packaging types covered, all saw a reduction in unit weight over this period. There are however, limits, to material efficiency improvements. The primary functions of packaging remain product protection, safety, hygiene, shelf life and labelling and continued efficiency improvements at the detriment of these functions would be counterproductive, and as such, it should not be presumed that light-weighting trends will continue indefinitely (Figure 9).

Figure 9 Percentage decrease in unit weight by product and material categories from 1990 to 2015

Source: Eunomia baseline report

However, the examples shown below represent averages, and there can be significant variations from the mean in terms of the weight of packaging of a specific material for a certain product type. A good example, but by no means the only case of this is glass wine bottles. The range of bottle weights available from one of the leading global glass packaging manufacturers Owens-Illinois (OI) is shown in Figure 10. While this does not show levels of consumption for each weight class, indications from stakeholders suggests that there more packaging is being used than is strictly necessary for the purposes of product protection.

Figure 10: Variation in Packaging Weights of Still Wine Bottles

Source: OI Glass Catalogue

Light-weighting of packaging has been accompanied by a shift in material use, particularly from glass to plastic, and particularly for beverages, but these factors together have not led to an overall reduction in the weight of packaging used.

Figure 11: Volume of beverages sold in the EU (27 countries - from 2020)

Source: Global Data

Accordingly, there are still many examples of packaging that remains heavier and larger than might be considered strictly necessary for the purpose of protecting the product it contains, as often evidenced by comparison with the same products from other brands where less packaging is used, and from the extra outer packaging and void space evident in most e-commerce packaging. There remains significant potential for further reductions, but in the absence of further interventions this potential seems unlikely to be realised.

6.3.1. Identified Examples of over-packaging or unnecessary Packaging

An Online Public Consultation was distributed to relevant stakeholders (companies, associations, EU citizens, non-governmental organisations, etc) in January gathering views on packaging, packaging waste, and reuse options to help inform the assessment of the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive. Of the respondents, 68% thought that there was either too much or far too much packaging being placed on the EU market. When asked which categories of products exhibited unnecessary or over-packaging, over two thirds of respondents thought that either cosmetics, ready meals, electronic goods, children’s toys had too much or far too much packaging. While there has been a drive from product brands and retailers to lightweight packaging for several decades, evidently there is the perception that there are still instances of unnecessary packaging, packaging that has not yet reached its optimum weight or size. Instances of over-packaging can broadly split into the following categories:

·Functionally necessary packaging which is excessive in terms of its volume or weight;

·Packaging that is unnecessary in that it serves no essential function and could be avoided without the need for an alternative;

·Packaging that could be replaced by a reuse system.

Work by Eunomia for WRAP and other clients, and confirmed by industry experts in the food retail sector 63 , has highlighted, for example, that some wine and beer bottles vary greatly in weight, despite having exactly the same functionality. Wine bottles, for example, can vary from 300g for a 75cl bottle, to over 600g for the same volume. Some references 64 give a ‘standard’ glass wine bottle as 540g (per 75cl) and a ‘light weighted’ bottle 420g or less. Vinbudin, the state alcohol company of Iceland, allows a search of wine bottles on its website by those that have been light weighted, showing that many have not 65 .

In a recent survey by Forbes Insights and DS Smith, 60% of e-commerce executives indicated that more than a quarter of their packaging (25%) is empty space, while separate research across product categories indicated that the empty space in e-commerce packaging ranges from 18% for clothing and footwear to 64% for glassware. 66 According to a recent JRC study, an additional layer of packaging (excluding inner protective materials) provides an additional demand for almost 1.5 million tonnes of cardboard and around 26,000 tonnes of light density polyethylene foil for Europe generated by e-commerce. 67 The JRC study presented a baseline scenario data for 2030, which showed that under the conditions where expected annual revenue growth rates between 2019 and 2021 can be applied for the linear increase of fulfilled units, packaging materials can be expected to roughly double in total for cardboard and LDPE film by 2030.

The problem is not confined to e-commerce however, despite the publicity this receives; significant over-packaging issues are evident in the categories of food and drink, home and hygiene, cosmetics, hardware (e.g. home improvement, vehicle maintenance), and consumer electronics 68 . The OPC survey supporting this study showed that 68% out of 280 of respondents considered that there is currently too much packaging (37% indicated too much packaging and 31% indicated far too much packaging) around products placed on the EU market in general, with a particular concern over electronics/electricals, toys, cosmetics, ready meals and fashion accessories (in declining order from 82% to 66% noting too much or far too much packaging). 69  

In France, evaluations of the reduction potential of single-use plastic packaging have been made based on feedback from stakeholders, including Citeo. 70 The findings of this work are summarised in Table 7, in regard to where there is significant potential for reduction.

Table 7 Links and trade offs relating to general objectives

Category

Reduction potential

Of which avoidance and reduced size / weight

Of which reuse potential

Prepared dishes

40%

50%

50%

Fruit and vegetables

40%

Mostly elimination/substitution

Limited potential

Water, Soft Drinks

20%

25%

75%

Savoury groceries

20%

50%

50%

Hygiene/beauty

25%

40%

60%

Home improvement

25%

40%

60%

Other (e.g. toys, hardware, electronics)

50%

100%

0%

Secondary packaging

20%

100%

0%

E-commerce

75%

33%

67%

Rigid transport packaging

80%

0%

100%

Source: Citeo

Stakeholder feedback to this current study has broadly acknowledged the potential for further improvement, including strong support from CITEO, and the Consumer Council at the Austrian Standards Institute which had identified many examples of overpackaging in previous studies 71 , picking out electronics, toys, cosmetics, software, food and DIY (e.g. home improvement) products with potential for substantial improvement in terms of reduced packaging volume or weight.

While overpackaging can occur in various packaging styles and materials, single use glass is known to be particularly problematic in that glass bottles are bought by style and weight to reflect brand placement (with heavier weight being perceived as equating to higher quality) rather than just functionality. One expert 72 noted that there are three broad categories for wine bottles that are well understood in the wine trade (all 70cl):

1.290g to 320g for budget/entry-level brands

2.320g to 360g for mid-range brands

3.360g plus for high end brands

Further evidence of the wide range of glass bottle weights is found when looking at the range of bottle weights available from one of the leading global glass packaging manufacturers Owens-Illinois (OI - Figure 0 ‑9 ). The range of weights of their 75CL still wine bottles, 70CL spirits bottles and 500ml beer bottles. Clearly, for each bottle type there is wide variation in bottle weights, pointing to the conclusion that there are significant numbers of bottles being placed on the market for which significant light-weighting could still be undertaken.

A comprehensive 2016 LCA for the Nordic Alcohol Monopolies 73 states that “… the large variation in the weight of individual packaging for the same purpose shows that reduction in packaging weight is an important improvement option. This is obviously especially important for glass bottles, but also PET bottles, aluminium cans, and Bag-in-Box show large variations in weight for the same volumes.”

Similar data can be established for spirit bottles (where again weight is perceived as equating to quality) and jars. Malt whiskies and specialist gins are often bottled in 70cl bottles that are in excess of 600g and sometimes over 800g, showing huge potential for reduction. While it can be argued that some alcohol bottles need to be stored for considerable periods, this is perfectly possible with any wine or spirits bottle, all of which have to withstand robust handling in distribution and transport by consumers.

Bottle unit weight data gathered by Eunomia show a very large variation across all plastic and glass bottles (Figure 12 and Figure 13 for still drinks, sparkling showing similar variation), and even within a subcategory like beer and wine in glass or soft drinks in plastic (Figure 14, Figure 15 and Figure 16).

Figure 12 Plastic (still beverage) bottle unit weight variation

Source: Eunomia sample data

Figure 13 Glass (still beverage) bottle unit weight variation

Source: Eunomia sample data

Figure 14 Plastic 500ml (still beverage) bottle weight distribution

Source: Eunomia sample data

Figure 15 Glass wine bottle (700ml) weight distribution

Source: Eunomia sample data

Figure 16 Glass beer and cider bottle (500ml) weight distribution

Source: Eunomia sample data

There are also some special cases where the product weight is close to or even less than the packaging weight. An extreme example of this is the single serve glass preserves jar as seen below and used in hospitality. In this case the product itself weighs 28g (when the jar is full) whilst the packaging weighs 25g. Additionally, these types of packs often have high quantities of residue, i.e. product that is not easily removed to be eaten, hence resulting in product waste.

6.3.2.E-commerce sector

Important incentive for companies is related to savings from reducing empty space. It can lead to lower freight costs, reduced packaging material costs for fillers and potentially also lower unit costs due to lesser material to build a parcel. 65% of executives surveyed by Forbes Insights and DS Smith believed they can achieve a packaging cost reduction of at least 25%, and 62% believed that they can achieve such savings in their logistics costs. 74 DS Smith estimated that this translates into $46 billion globally of potential annual savings. The estimation accounts for potential savings in logistics costs, but it does not include further savings in material reduction or storage and handling costs, for instance (ibid.). The packaging optimization can be facilitated by delivery services. Couriers have traditionally priced parcels according to their weight. Based on the findings from interviews, recently, this approach is being replaced by the dimensional pricing. For example, UPS and FedEx instituted dimensional pricing in 2015 in order to save space in trucks and compensate for the revenue lost due transportation of oversized parcels (over-sized parcels took a lot of space, however, the cost based on weight was too little too compensate for the empty space). 75  

Based on the procurement research analysis carried out by SpendEdge, the demand for lightweight packaging is increasing mostly because companies are focusing on reducing the overall weight of the packaging to reduce the transportation cost. 76 The potential for environmental gains is greater in the e-commerce sector than a bricks and mortar supply chain, because there are according to DS Smith at least four times as many touchpoints in this sector.

Additionally, reduction in packaging in e-commerce has advantages because it can improve customer's satisfaction, as there is a growing number of eco-conscious consumers and because households face increasing recycling obligations from their municipalities waste collection services. According to the BillerudKorsnäs Consumer Panel, 64% of respondents (based in 16 megacities around the world) indicated that they may change a product for another one if it clearly provides a more sustainable choice. 77  

E-commerce often comes in for criticism in regards to excess packaging, and this is often because of the automated processes used, and the difficulty and cost associated with storing the multitude of bag and box sizes that would be needed to optimise. While box-on-demand systems are available to create the right-sized box, these are generally too slow for fast moving fulfilment warehouses. There is a positive facet to the move to greater e-commerce however.

Amazon, for example, has for ten years been running its Frustration Free Packaging initiative with suppliers with the aim of shipping single items in their original primary packs, without the need for an outer collation box or bag. While the number of case studies are small compared to huge array of products sold on Amazon, this shows the potential for further minimisation. Amazon has, for example, recently worked with Hasbro, the toy manufacturer, to produce better packaging for a popular toy, thereby reducing the amount of material used and the pack volume by over 50%. Similar work has been done with Fisher Price and other toy brands 78 . This is an interesting example in that toys that are sold from the shelf in a toy shop ‘need’ to be larger for shelf impact reasons, being attractive to children. Internet shopping avoids the side-by-side comparison and hence allows the pack to be properly sized for its main purpose – product protection.

6.3.3.Regulatory Drivers

The cases highlighted as clear examples of overpackaging suggest the regulatory measures used to date have not been wholly effective. Under Article 4 and 9 of the Waste Framework Directive, Member States must implement waste prevention measures but these articles do not specify minimal requirements on the content or extent of these measures. Here are examples of some relevant waste prevention measures reported by Member States in the questionnaire – there were only a limited number of responses, so a more systematic assessment was not carried out:

·In Belgium, the largest 20% of packers/fillers and importers by packaging placed on the market must introduce a packaging prevention plan every three years, with the aim of committing to packaging waste prevention measures. Belgium have also introduced a tax on single use beverage packaging and through the Producer Responsibility Organisation, Fostplus, operates a platform where consumers may report instances of over-packaging.

·In Germany, the legal framework of the German Packaging Act is complemented by voluntary measures. For instance, the Federal Ministry for the Environment has launched a ‘round table’ dialogue between important producers with the aim of reducing unnecessary plastic packaging. This has led to prominent producers making commitments to reduce their use of plastic packaging.

·In Italy, the Producer Responsibility Organisation CONAI has implemented a number of initiatives with the aim of assisting producers with waste prevention through light-weighting. Examples include ‘Prevention Awards’ that reward packaging manufacturers who have been able to reduce the environmental impact of their packaging, online tools that allows producers to apply ‘eco-design’ principles to their products, and an online platform that provides information on good practise in packaging design.

·In Spain, producers are also required to submit packaging waste prevention programmes that include quantitative reduction measures that achieve reductions on a per unit basis.

Whilst the PPWD sets material specific targets for recycling, with an overall target of 65% to be met by 2025, there are no targets in respect of waste prevention but rather the general obligation for packaging to be conform to the ‘essential requirements’. PPWD Annex II states that:

“Packaging shall be so manufactured that the packaging volume and weight be limited to the minimum adequate amount to maintain the necessary level of safety, hygiene and acceptance for the packed product and for the consumer”. 

The Harmonized European Standard EN 13428:2000, 79 compliance with which provides presumption of conformity (how the Essential Requirements were implemented in practice) with the above mentioned requirement for all packaging placed on the market, provides for a procedure for assessing compliance on prevention by source reduction. This procedure relies on identifying one or more “critical areas”, which are specific performance criterion that prevents further reductions in the weight and/ or volume of packaging. There is little detail in the Standard about how to test and verify the critical areas, but the performance criteria (equally weighted) are specified as: Product protection; Manufacturing process; Packing/ filling process; Logistics; Product presentation and marketing; User/ consumer acceptance; Information; Safety; Legislation; Other issues

Assessments should state for each relevant criterion whether this is a “critical area” meaning that no reduction of packaging is possible due to this criterion. Essentially, each of the above criteria outranks the need to reduce packaging at source.

Defining “product presentation and marketing” as a critical area gives suppliers significant latitude to claim that the quantity of packaging is necessary to effectively market the product and hence not infringe the standard. Indeed, in the Member State questionnaire, it was cited that there were many cases of excessive quantities of packaging being used for protection and distribution due to the packaging’s marketing needs. Furthermore, the concept of “consumer acceptance” is also contestable, with previous studies concluding that it is “difficult to define or to evaluate”. What is acceptable to consumer is a relative concept, of course, and could be used to reflect the desires or needs of a small niche group rather than to reflect a far wider societal need or desire. It should also be noted that “consumer acceptance” does not necessarily prevent reductions in the volume of weight of packaging, as consumers can be concerned by perceived ‘over-packaging’ just as much as they can be concerned about the convenience offered by a pack for example. While “other issues” is an all-encompassing category and there is no guidance on who should adjudicate upon whether any “other issues” cited are appropriate

Section A.2 of the Standard explains that tests or studies will be used to identify critical areas, however no further information is provided on what form these tests should take or how they are to be verified. Importantly, the procedures taken from the standard series EN ISO 9000 ff and EN ISO 14000 do not contain any clear, quantifiable criterion for reducing the use of packaging. In short, “the minimum adequate amount” of packaging lacks the necessary clarity to be enforceable and the standards do not help determine what can and cannot be placed on the market – so the problem is with both the Essential Requirements and the standard.

Furthermore, in the context of the PPWD, Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for packaging has been introduced in most Member States, whereby producers are required to bear the cost of recovery for the packaging they place on the market with fees typically based on the weight of packaging placed on the market. These schemes shall be established for all packaging in accordance with Articles 8 and 8a of the Waste Framework Directive by end of 2024 at the latest (see Art. 7 PPWD), and the existing schemes that have been established before 4 July 2018 shall be made compliant with these provisions by 5 January 2023. In addition to the funding of collection and recycling infrastructure, EPR fees are also intended to drive producers towards minimising the packaging generated by providing a financial incentive to reduce the weight. When expressed in terms of the costs per item of packaging, the costs of EPR fees are rather low and not of the scale to encourage producers to change their choice of packaging, or move to different business models, such as those based on reuse and refill. This is exacerbated in the case of plastic packaging, where despite tonnage based fees being, generally higher than for other materials, the lower package weights in comparison to packaging made from other materials leads to a very low cost per item of plastic packaging. And while the fees as a proportion of the cost of the packaging tend to be low, they are even smaller relative to the cost of the packaged product. Although Member States will be required to modulate their fees even further, the modulation would need to be relatively high in order for the costs of EPR fees to be a significant proportion of the costs of a packaging item and to drive change. In the Member State survey, it was pointed out that the revenue raised through increased marketing and the resulting increase in packaging would likely outweigh increased costs associated with EPR.

Pharmaceutical packaging

Pharmaceutical packaging was highlighted in Article 20 of the PPWD as an area that may require special measures to address primary packaging for medical devices and pharmaceutical products due to the many restrictions on the design and use of pharmaceutical packaging that provide a barrier to waste prevention, and as such are set out below (no other legislation with packaging specific requirements of this nature was found in the review):

·Pharmaceutical packaging criteria / restrictions are implemented through the following EU legislation:

·Regulation (EC) NO 726/2004 on the authorisation and supervision of medicinal products for human and veterinary use and establishing a European Medicines Agency

·Directive 2010/84/EU amending Directive 2001/83/EC medicinal products for human use

·Falsified Medicines Directive (Directive 2011/62/EU)

·Pharmacopoeia (European Pharmacopoeia)

·Also some international guidelines are applicable to pharmaceutical packaging:

·ICH note for guidance on stability testing: stability testing of new drug substances and products (ref: cpmp/ich/2736/99)

·WHO guidelines on stability testing of pharmaceutical products containing well established drug substances in conventional dosage forms

·WHO - general aspects of packaging

Registration procedure: After the clinical trials, the registration authorities will decide whether a drug substance and the primary (immediate and outer) packaging can be admitted to the market. The primary (immediate and outer) packaging is an integral part of the registration file and thus will be the subject of a thorough investigation (integrity and stability of the drug substance, patient compliance etc.). The registration procedure is stopped in the case that the packaging was insufficiently tested or does not meet the abovementioned requirements of public health.

Stability study: The mandatory stability studies need to demonstrate that the packaging guarantees the integrity and full stability of the drug substance, and this during at least the shelf life of the drug substance. Next, the primary packaging should be adapted to the specific physical characteristics of the patient (e.g. user-friendly for an elderly person, adequate protection for children).

Product standards: Product standards for pharmaceuticals include standards for their packaging. Packaging standards are related to the protection of the drugs from temperature fluctuations, storage or use. An important criterion therefore is e.g. the sturdiness of the packaging. These standards result in little freedom in the choice of primary packaging of pharmaceuticals. Some examples:

·recycled glass as primary immediate packaging is explicitly prohibited;

·the primary outer packaging cannot be made entirely from recycled cardboard because recycled cardboard is less sturdy and the medicinal products are less protected;

·blister packs are usually only manufactured with multiple inseparable layers in order to create an adequate barrier for external organisms.

Multifunctionality: The primary packaging of a medicine has a specific role and in most cases must be able to perform several functions at the same time. Packaging prevention is therefore limited to the extent that these different functions can be fulfilled. The following functions are deemed essential:

·Distribution: transport must be possible without damage or deterioration and must also be able to withstand handling by the patient.

·Hygiene: protection of the active substance of the medicinal product throughout its shelf life. The packaging must therefore contribute to ensuring good hygiene of the product.

·Portioning: design in such a way that a correct dosage can be administered.

·Information: contains legally defined information, such as the expiry date, lot number, manufacturer's name, brand name, active substance name and information on the correct use of the medicinal product.

Storage of the product: protection against external influences (light, humidity, air, temperature differences, etc.). The primary (immediate and outer) packaging must offer protection against external influences (light, humidity, air, temperature differences, etc.).

Safety conditions: pharmaceutical legislation requires additional safety requirements to be met by a particular form of packaging due to the risks associated with the misuse of medicines.

Problem Evolution

Understanding in what way the generation of packaging waste has evolved and thus may evolve further in the future is challenging. As discussed above, there are many influencing factors. Population is one factor, and as the population in the EU is expected to increase, other things being equal, waste generation would continue to go up. 80 This in itself is not a ‘problem’ per se, as it is normal for waste generation to be correlated to population. However, packaging waste generation per capita has also increased due to changes in the population’s household composition as well as to rising levels of goods consumption and increasing packaging intensity in certain market areas (incl. e-commerce). As GDP has increased across Member States, so too has consumption, with waste not yet fully decoupling from GDP across all Member States. With these drivers in mind, the levels of packaging waste generated are likely to continue to increase.

In addition to the increased consumption, the increasing demand for convenient products, including purchasing through e-commerce and on-the-go consumption is not forecast to reduce in the future. The European flexible packaging market is set to grow at an annual rate of 2% over the next three years,  81 and one source suggests the e-commerce market for packaging will grow at a rate of 5.59% in the years to 2023 in Europe, 82 which in the light of Covid-19 may be an underestimation. The unit weight of packaging has reduced significantly since the introduction of the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive; however, there are physical limits to how much more can be achieved especially considering the tendencies going in the opposite direction of more packaging consumption.

These trends may get a counterweight in the increasing concerns of national regulators and consumers regarding over-packaging and packaging waste in general. As has already been stated, though, whilst there is greater public awareness of environmental issues, it is not certain to what extent this will have impact on consumption trends, with consumers likely to hold producers primarily responsible for realising the reduction in packaging waste. There is evidence that industry groups are beginning to make commitments on the absolute reduction of packaging waste placed on the market. The Plastics Pact is a network of regional and local initiatives initiated by the Ellen Macarthur Foundation that connects stakeholders to implement circular solutions for plastic packaging waste. 83 Through this, national networks have been set up in Portugal, France, the Netherlands, and Poland, with members – both national authorities and industry as well as other stakeholders - making pledges to reduce their use of plastic packaging. In this context, the signatories of the Dutch plastic pact have pledged to reduce their use of plastic packaging by 20% per kilogram of product by 2025. Furthermore, a wide European network of stakeholders has been initiated, with a core aim to prevent and reduce over-packaging and packaging waste; the European Plastics Pact has set the target to “reduce virgin plastic products and packaging by at least 20% (by weight) by 2025, with half of this reduction coming from an absolute reduction in plastics”.

These types of industry initiatives have resulted in companies making further voluntary pledges. Notably, Unilever has pledged to halve its use of virgin plastic by 2025, by reducing its absolute use of plastic packaging by more than 100,000 tonnes, although if this is achieved through switching to heavier materials, this may not result in a reduction in packaging. Similarly, Aldi has pledged to reduce its use of plastic packaging by 25% by 2023. The majority of industry pledges have, however, focused on ensuring all packaging is reusable or recyclable, whilst refraining from making reduction pledges.

The Ellen Macarthur Foundation identify further examples of producers eliminating packaging components from their products in their Global Commitment 2020 Progress Report. 84  

An example of direct elimination was provided by ASOS, the fashion retailer, who removed plastic hangers, swing tickets, and plastic kimbals from some of its brands. These components were largely superfluous and were not essential to the protection of those products. Indeed, as an online retailer, there is less need to use packaging to market products.

In the food and drink sector, producers such as Mars Incorporated, Kesko Corporation, and Barilla G.e R. Fratelli SpA are eliminating plastic windows from some of their products including boxes of rice, bread packaging, and pasta boxes. These plastic windows serve a marketing function by allowing the consumer visibility of the product and do not provide a product preservation function.

Cosmetics producers such as Natura Cosmetics and L’Occitane en Provence raised the elimination of seals and shrink wrap as a method of removing unnecessary packaging. Whilst some products do require seals to extend the lifetime of products, this is often not the case and in the case of shrink wrap, it is often used to sell multi-packs together when arguably, these products could just as easily be sold individually.

The retail company Ahold Delhaize, who operates in several Member States, is trialling the sale of unpackaged fresh fruit and vegetables, using an innovative technique involving the spraying of produce with a ‘dry, fine mist’ that extends the lifetime of the produce. This is claimed to potentially save 270 tonnes of packaging each year. In a similar vein, this retailer is also replacing the stickers used on fresh fruit and vegetables with ‘natural branding’ saving 13 tonnes annually of plastic packaging

The cross-border aspects of some of the problem drivers present challenges for solutions at the national level, which is being highlighted in particular by industry. Firstly, according to multiple industry members, the level of cross-border e-commerce is increasing more rapidly than domestic e-commerce. Measures implemented at a national level to ban specific packaging types or materials place additional burden on producers who sell products across the EU, who would be required to use multiple packaging types to comply with a range of national requirements, depending on the scope of the national measures. Measures taken to address over-packaging, such as standards or minimum dimensions, will be difficult to enforce across borders and as such may negatively impact the competitiveness of domestic companies. Similarly, if waste prevention targets that apply to producers are implemented, non-domestic companies for whom the targets do not apply, may be given a competitive advantage. Such measures have therefore been criticised by industry as potentially undermining the functioning of the single market and the freedom of movement of packaged goods.

Impact of Covid-19 On the Generation of Unnecessary Packaging Waste

The restrictions placed on consumers and businesses through the course of the Covid-19 crisis has severely impacted levels of consumption across the EU. The household saving rate in the EU recorded its all-time highest year-on-year increase in the first and second quarters of 2020. This was largely due to significant reduction in household consumption expenditure, which in the second quarter, was 17.6% less than in 2019.

However, whilst household expenditure has fallen across Europe in 2020, it does not necessarily follow that the generation of packaging waste has fallen too. Indeed, in Ireland whilst there was a fall in commercial waste generation of 50% between March and May, this was offset by increases in residual waste and recycling of 19% and 8% respectively. With citizens spending much more time at home, the sales of groceries rose by 25% and likely drove this increase in waste generation. Furthermore, whilst under the strictest lockdowns all hospitality venues were required to close, when restrictions were eased many hospitality businesses turned to offering take-away, leading to increases in demand for service packaging from these businesses.

The Covid-19 crisis has been an accelerator for some pre-existing trends. E-commerce was already gaining market share, however since the beginning of the pandemic the B2C online sales of physical goods have experienced a surge of demand in certain products, particularly for medical supplies, household essentials and food products. In addition to the primary packaging surrounding the products, additional transport packaging is now being generated of and disposed of too.

All in all, the reduced consumption in several household expenditures during the pandemic has been by far overcompensated by increased sales in supermarkets for food consumed at home instead of restaurants, more take-away/prepared home delivery of food and internet sales, which further increased the generation of packaging waste.

As discussed, existing regulations have weaknesses with regards to the prevention of packaging waste, and will need to be strengthened in order to reduce unnecessary packaging. The Waste Framework Directive (WFD) instructs Member States to take waste prevention measures on multiple occasions. Article 4 WFD mandates Member States to encourage options that deliver the best environmental outcome in accordance with the waste hierarchy:


2. When applying the waste hierarchy referred to in paragraph 1, Member States shall take measures to encourage the options that deliver the best overall environmental outcome. This may require specific waste streams departing from the hierarchy where this is justified by life-cycle thinking on the overall impacts of the generation and management of such waste.

Furthermore, according to the 2018 modification of the Waste Framework Directive, under Article 9, Member States are required to implement further waste prevention measures covering a large number of waste areas. Whilst packaging is one of the areas that Member States are asked to target, the Article does not specify what measures should be taken and leaves Member States significant latitude to choose the measures taken. As evidenced earlier, Member States have not taken a consistent approach with differing levels of effectiveness. Similarly, Article 29 requires Member States to adopt National Waste Prevention Programmes, in which they were advised to set quantitative targets and indicators for the reduction of waste. Whilst many of these plans do set quantitative targets for the reduction of municipal waste generation, 85 this is not specific to the generation of packaging waste, and the measures involved often relate to other aspects of municipal waste, such as the separation of food waste.

Article 4 of PPWD sets out additional waste prevention measures related to packaging and refers to the WFD:

1. Member States shall ensure that, in addition to the measures taken in accordance with Article 9, other preventive measures are implemented in order to prevent generation of packaging waste and to minimise the environmental impact of packaging.

Such other preventive measures may consist of national programmes, incentives through extended producer responsibility schemes to minimise the environmental impact of packaging, or similar actions adopted, if appropriate, in consultation with economic operators, and consumer and environmental organisations, and designed to bring together and take advantage of the many initiatives taken within Member States as regards prevention.

Member States shall make use of economic instruments and other measures to provide incentives for the application of the waste hierarchy such as those indicated in Annex IVa to Directive 2008/98/EC 86 or other appropriate instruments and measures.

In order to tackle the growing amounts of packaging waste generated, Member States were consulted via a survey to identify their preferred waste management measures as well as the level at which such measures should be taken. Member States are divided in their views of a preferred way forward. A minority thought that consumption reduction targets could be an effective measure, provided it was implemented at a sectoral level - although most raised concerns as to whether targets set at an EU-level would be achievable for all Member States and may put some at a disadvantage. A requirement for producers to implement corporate waste prevention policies was suggested by several Member States, from a range of geographies, as an effective method.

In accordance with the Waste Framework Directive Articles 4 and 9, some measures have already been implemented in Member States. For example, some Member States, including Spain and Belgium, require producers to create and implement packaging prevention plans, where producers must include in the plans measures to reduce packaging use per product, and remove the superfluous use of packaging. Several 'informative’ measures have also been implemented in Member States, largely through Producer Responsibility Organisations (PRO), that offer advice, guidance and training to producers who are seeking to reduce their use of packaging. In Italy, for instance, the PRO offers an eco-design and LCA tool to producers, whilst in Ireland, Repak deliver a certified training course. Regulatory measures that limit or support the use of certain types of packaging (e.g. requirements for bio-based plastic packaging or plastic packaging containing recycled content), as well as national bans for certain single-use plastic packaging, which are not covered by the SUP Directive, are being increasingly implemented at a Member State level and would benefit from an EU-wide approach. For some non-packaging items covered by the SUP Directive, Article 192 TFEU which is the legal basis for the SUP Directive, would seem to allow for such bans under the general conditions of proportionality and non-discrimination, however for many packaging items be it covered or not by the SUP Directive, these bans are not permitted as placing on the market of packaging is harmonized at the EU level and any national packaging waste prevention measures taken to implement Article 4(1) of the PPWD must comply with Art. 18 of the PPWD. However, an EU-wide approach would prevent these occasions from occurring and remove any doubts.

The new Circular Economy Action Plan (nCEAP) as published on 11 March 2020 specifically states the aim of “reducing (over)packaging and packaging waste, including by setting targets and other waste prevention measures”, 87 in addition to committing to reviewing the legislation for specific waste streams, including packaging, with the view, i.a. to preventing waste, the new CEAP commits to preventing waste and setting waste reduction targets as part of a broader set of measures on waste prevention in the context of a review of Directive 2008/98/EC. 88 Furthermore, the CEAP announces a Sustainable Product Policy Initiative, with the aim to make products on the EU market more sustainable, i.a. by extending their lifetimes and promoting reuse and repair. This could reduce the pace at which products are discarded and replaced by new products and thereby also the packaging used for the new products. Approximately half of the items covered by the Single Use Plastic Directive (2019/904) are packaging, and contains objectives for consumption reduction of items through measures such as setting national reduction targets and bans on specific packaging types such as food containers made of EPS. 89

In summary, whilst there are some indications that producers are seeking to eliminate unnecessary packaging (either whole or elements), and reduce packaging weight in some quarters, the publicised examples are very few and far between compared to the overall market, despite there being hundreds if not thousands of brand signatories. The voluntary agreements and ‘Pacts’ all have their strongest focus on 100% recyclability and/or compostability and/or reuse. Where avoidance is mentioned at all this is limited to a very small selection of packaging items that the brands and retailers are willing to sacrifice, such as collation packaging. Very few individual brands, in their commitments, say anything at all about their commitments to reduce and eliminate.

While recent or recently announced policy interventions could contribute to reducing the rate of increase of packaging use in the EU, in the absence of further regulatory efforts, there is no strong evidence that the trend for increasing packaging waste generation in absolute terms will diminish. In fact, consumer pressure, and brand commitments, in regard to 100% recyclability and less plastic may well further drive weight increases as there is switch back, in some product categories, to cardboard and glass from plastic.

6.3.5.Problem Tree for avoidable packaging waste

6.4.    Increase in the proportion of packaging that is single-use

Data on packaging reuse across Europe is limited. Very few Member States have official data on reusable packaging or report voluntarily on reusable packaging under the PPWD. Only Denmark, Finland and Luxembourg regularly report to Eurostat on the amount of packaging reused within their national boundaries. Where data is available, there are issues with different data collection methods, different products and varying modes of reuse. In some instances, the data are not available from organisations or businesses due to competition concerns.

However, overall country specific trends indicate a reduction in reusable primary and tertiary packaging (no data are available for secondary packaging) over the past two decades. The reuse of consumer (primary) packaging is increasingly uncommon, and is limited primarily to beverage packaging at a national scale. Even within beverage packaging, a steep decline in reusables has been recorded, with some exceptions in the hospitality sector. Table 8 shows the Member States which have experienced the greatest market share decreases for refillable beverages over the last two decades, the highest being Denmark with a 76% reduction in market share of refillables.

Table 8: Change in Refillables’ Market Share for Beverages, 1999-2018

Country

Market Share refillables 1999

Market Share refillables 2018

% difference

Denmark

91%

15%

-76%

Finland

79%

5%

-74%

Norway

77%

8%

-69%

Romania

70%

15%

-55%

Bulgaria

74%

22%

-52%

Hungary

63%