Packaging and Sustainability

Press release

Fewer bans, More recycling

European Parliament finalises its position on the EU Packaging Regulation

Berlin, 22 November 2023

It was a controversial vote: today, the European Parliament (EP) finalised its position on the Commission’s proposal for an EU Packaging Regulation.

With regard to the planned packaging bans, the plenary did not follow the recommendation of the Environment Committee, but adopted the view of the Industry Committee and large sections of the business community: There will be fewer bans on specific packaging formats, for example for fruit and vegetables. The lack of a scientific basis and the lack of transparency in the selection of packaging to be banned had been criticised in advance. “The European Parliament’s reduction of unsubstantiated packaging bans is to be welcomed. It is right to focus on packaging reduction, but with more suitable instruments such as mandatory minimisation targets and national reduction targets for packaging waste,” says Carl Dominik Klepper, Chairman of the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Verpackung und Umwelt (AGVU).

The European Parliament also confirms the mandatory recyclability for all packaging proposed by the EU Commission but abandons the fixed target year of 2030. Packaging must not only be theoretically recyclable but also be recycled in practice. The exact conditions for this still remain unclear: the European Parliament only proposes the existence of “sufficient capacity” of recycling facilities as a criterion. The Council, which represents the EU member states, is still debating this point and is aiming for an orientation towards EU-wide fixed recycling targets. “Of course, the success of the circular packaging economy depends entirely on the quantities actually recycled,” explains Klepper. “However, certain packaging must not be taken off the market because it is not recycled satisfactorily in a few Member States.

Whether the new EU packaging regulation can be adopted before the European elections in 2024 remains completely open: This would require the European Parliament and the Council, which is expected to adopt its negotiating position in mid-December, to agree on a joint text by the beginning of February 2024.

The press release is available for download here.

Contact:

Anna Kupferschmitt, Head of EU Affairs and Communications

Arbeitsgemeinschaft Verpackung und Umwelt e. V., Reinhardtstr. 25, 10117 Berlin, Tel.: + 49 30 206 426 67, E-Mail: kupferschmitt@agvu.de

Packaging and Sustainability

Press release

Refill stations must remain optional

Negotiations on new EU packaging regulation enter decisive phase

Berlin, 11.10.2023

Brussels is working at full speed to finalise the new EU Packaging Regulation. It is intended to
decisively advance the circular economy in Europe.

One of the basic ideas of the regulation is the mandatory recyclability of all packaging from 2030.With new design requirements, it should be possible to recycle a considerable part of the packagingmaterial. “The potential of recycling is to be fully exploited – this is good news for the circulareconomy. However, the expertise of the packaging and recycling industry must be decisive in thedesign guidelines. Their involvement must be anchored in the regulation,” says Carl Dominik Klepper, chairman of the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Verpackung und Umwelt (AGVU), a German association of thepackaging value chain.

The European Parliament, which is currently working on the draft Regulation, is also planning an
obligation for the extensive provision of refill stations for unpacked products in supermarkets. “Only a
few products are suitable for sale through refill stations without restrictions – hygiene and the
avoidance of food waste must continue to be a priority
,” explains Klepper. “It should therefore be up
to retailers to decide to what extent they set up refill stations
.”

Another pillar of the proposal is the mandatory use of already recycled material in plastic packaging
from 2030 – an important measure for closing raw material cycles and conserving resources.
However, doubts remain about the feasibility of the planned quotas in the area of food packaging.
Here, the lack of official permits for recycling processes that can produce food-safe material is
causing problems. However, the EU institutions’ proposals so far do not point to a solution,” Klepper
explains.

The EU Commission’s draft law is currently being negotiated in the EU Parliament and between the
member states in the Council. A number of proposals are on the table – but it is questionable whether
an agreement on a common text will be reached before the European elections in 2024.

The full position of the AGVU can be found here.

The press release is available for download here.

Packaging and Sustainability

Press release

Chemical recycling must be accounted for in the right way

Discussion on chemical recycling of packaging and current regulatory projects at the 20th AGVU Orientation Day

Berlin, 23.06.2023

On Thursday, 22 June, the 20th “AGVU Orientation Day” took place. The conference with more than 100 participants from industry, politics and administration as well as press and NGOs offered a broad insight into current regulatory projects, the controversial topic “chemical recycling”, as well as the CO2-saving potential of the packaging sector.

Stefanie Schäfter from the Federal Ministry for the Environment first presented the status of work for the “National Circular Economy Strategy” planned for 2024. The strategy is to contribute to the reduction of primary raw material consumption and the decarbonisation of industry.

Dr. Aliaksandra Shuliakevich from the German Chemical Industry Association, and Dr. Alexander Kronimus, Plastics Europe Germany, explained the principles and opportunities of chemical recycling, which breaks down plastic waste into its molecular components: “These technologies offer the chance that waste that cannot be recycled mechanically can be recycled in a high-quality way and, for example, used again for food contact”. Controversial discussions focused on methods for assigning the property “recycled” to the quantities of plastic produced in a complex process. “There must be no whitewashing here – chemical recycling must be accounted for in the right way,” said Thorsten Hornung from the recycling company Saperatec – it is indispensable that consumers can rely on statements about the recycled content of packaging.

In the second part of the event, a study was presented that forecasts the contribution of the packaging sector to the German climate neutrality target in 2045. “According to our calculations, CO2 emissions from the packaging sector in Germany can be reduced by up to 94% by 2045 compared to 2021,” explained Kurt Schüler from the Gesellschaft für Verpackungsmarktforschung (GVM). This enormous savings potential, he said, was due to a triad of improved recycling of packaging, the conversion of production and recycling processes to renewable energies, and declining packaging consumption in Germany.

Another focus was on a planned revision of the national Packaging Act, which is intended to ensure that sustainable packaging will be more financially rewarding for manufacturers in the future: “The instrument of EPR fees can be used to effectively reward the environmentally friendly design of a package,” explained Dr. Juliane Hilf from the law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. Moreover, this long-awaited initiative of the Federal Environment Ministry does not conflict with the contents of the EU Packaging Regulation currently being negotiated in Brussels, emphasised Hilf.

AGVU has been committed to product responsibility in packaging since 1986. and advocates environmentally sound and resource-saving use and recycling. The association represents the entire value chain: from the packaging industry to the consumer goods industry and trade to the dual systems, disposal companies and recyclers.

Packaging and Sustainability

Press release

Revamping packaging regulation throughout the entire lifecycle

EU Commission proposes new rules for packaging

Berlin, 30.11.2022

Packaging must become more sustainable – with this declared goal, the EU Commission published a comprehensive legislative proposal today. The draft European Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation contains rules for the entire packaging life cycle – from environmentally friendly design to efficient recycling.

The creation of uniform EU-wide standards and rules for the packaging sector is an essential step towards a complete circular economy. Among other things, significantly higher demands are to be made on the recyclability of packaging from 2030 to reduce resource consumption. From the same date, all plastic packaging is to contain proportions of ten to thirty percent of already recycled material – so-called recyclates. “So far, the use of recyclates has stagnated in many sectors – with ambitious EU targets, a new dynamic could unfold here,” explains AGVU Chairman Dr Carl Dominik Klepper. “In the case of food packaging, however, the quota will come to nothing if legal approvals for its use continue to be lacking. Here, the EU Commission disappoints with a lack of solution perspectives”.

In future, a new labelling system will enable consumers to identify which bin a package belongs in: this will be ensured by standardised pictograms on both the packages and the corresponding waste bins. “What belongs where is sometimes a bit of a guessing game – but only correctly separated materials can be recycled properly. It is high time that it is made easier for consumers to contribute to environmental protection” emphasises Carl Dominik Klepper.

In the areas of beverage cups, bottles and cans, the trade is to meet ambitious reusable quotas in the future. However, the text leaves open how it is to be ensured that new reusable systems represent an ecological advantage. “After all, this is not automatically a given. For example, reusable containers should be cleaned, refilled and delivered regionally to avoid long transport routes and thus emissions” comments Carl Dominik Klepper.

The EU Commission is also presenting a ban list of certain disposable packaging. This would affect, for example, micro-packaging for milk, sugar or soy sauce, as well as many fruit and vegetable packages. “With such detailed regulations, but also with the very far-reaching documentation and proof obligations for companies that the EU Commission envisages, the costs and benefits are disproportionate” says Carl Dominik Klepper.

In the coming months, the European Parliament and the Council – the representation of the EU member states – will each make amendments to the EU Commission’s proposal and then negotiate a compromise text.

The AGVU has been committed to product responsibility in packaging since 1986 and advocates environmentally sound and resource-saving use and recycling. The association represents the entire value chain: from the packaging industry to the consumer goods industry and trade to the dual systems, disposal companies and recyclers.

Contact:

Anna Kupferschmitt, Head of EU Affairs and Communications

Arbeitsgemeinschaft Verpackung + Umwelt e.V., Reinhardtstr. 25, 10117, Tel.: +49 30 – 206 426 60, E-Mail: kupferschmitt@agvu.de