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What kind of big challenges will the packaging industry face in 2023?

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On November 30, 2022, the European Commission presented a proposal for a European regulation on packaging and packaging waste, giving the impression that the regulatory environment in Europe is connecting the European Green Deal, circular economy schemes, waste regulations and carbon issues to create a There is a more consistent and clear agenda than ever before, and the proposal also sends clear signals about business opportunities and business risks.

Needless to say, businesses face a more specific and pressing set of requirements, not only for the recyclability of packaging (which will be subject to more prescriptive standards) and minimum plastic recycled content for plastic packaging, but also in the area of reusability and refilling There will be more regulatory intervention.


As Mattia Pellegrini (Head of the European Commission's Environment Agency) shared at the Sustainable Packaging Summit in Lisbon last September, mandatory reuse targets will be introduced, likely to continue to escalate between now and 2040. Reuse targets will be set for primary, secondary and tertiary packaging and for each sector.

These all represent a shift in European consumers’ environmental expectations for packaged goods – and as the UN plastic pollution treaty progresses towards global regulation, we should see it as a blueprint for progress on a global scale.

The Directive is the cornerstone of the EU's drive to promote sustainable packaging, setting out a number of objectives and requirements with the aim of dealing with packaging waste while removing barriers in the internal market caused by member states adopting different rules on packaging design.

Recently published revisions to the directive show that the EU wants to go further towards its goal of making all packaging on the EU market reusable or recycled in an "economically viable way" by 2030.

Crucially, a new target has also been set: to reduce packaging waste per capita by 15% in each member state by 2040 compared to 2018 levels. This would lead to an overall waste reduction of 37% compared to other routes, the European Commission said.

The revisions also focus on outright bans on certain forms, further implementation of DRS, and mandatory take-back rates.

Additionally, companies may have to offer consumers a certain percentage of their products in reusable or refillable packaging, though that percentage is thought to be lower than initially estimated, based on industry responses to the leaked draft proposal.

So, what should we do in 2023? It is worth noting that, at least for now, these revisions are not final and binding. This year, the proposals will be brought to the EU Parliament, the EU Council and all 27 member states. They may also change during the process.

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