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22 May

Rethink, Reduce, Recycle: Understanding the EU's Packaging Legislation

The European Union has taken a significant step forward with a new provisional agreement on packaging and packaging waste regulations. The proposed legislation aims to transform the packaging industry by bolstering sustainability requirements, enhancing recycled content targets, and implementing stricter controls on hazardous substances.

The agreement reaffirms most of the sustainability requirements initially proposed by the European Commission. It mandates that all packaging on the market must adhere to rigorous environmental standards to help move Europe toward a circular economy. How can this be done?

Implementing Recyclable Content

A key focus of these requirements is the mandate on minimum recycled content in plastic packaging, with specific targets set for 2030 and 2040. However, the agreement also recognizes the need for flexibility; certain types of packaging, such as compostable plastics and packaging with minimal plastic content, are exempt from these recycled content targets.

Reducing Hazardous Substances

One of the more pivotal aspects of the agreement is the introduction of restrictions on the use of per and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFASs) in food-contact packaging. Recognizing the potential health risks associated with PFASs, the legislation sets specific thresholds to curtail their use. This decision underscores the EU's commitment to consumer safety and prompts manufacturers to seek safer, sustainable alternatives in packaging materials.

Strategizing Waste Management

Similar to implementing recyclable content, another element of the new legislation is its approach to waste management and reduction. The rules set out to reduce packaging waste and initiate re-use and refill targets by mandating a maximum empty space ratio of 50% in grouped transport and e-commerce packaging. It also requires manufacturers and importers to minimize the weight and volume of packaging, except where protective designs are legally established.

Take-away businesses must offer customers options for using their containers. Customers can bring their own containers for cold and hot beverages and ready-prepared food at no additional charge to take away their orders, helping to reduce disposable packaging use and promoting sustainability. By 2030, these businesses must also strive to provide 10% of their products in packaging suitable for re-use.

Innovating with Bio-based Packaging

The agreement lays the groundwork for future innovations in bio-based packaging. Three years after the regulation goes into effect, the Commission will assess the state of technological advancements in bio-based plastic packaging. Based on this assessment, the Commission is expected to establish specific sustainability requirements for bio-based content in plastic packaging. This focus on bio-based packaging opens up a wealth of opportunities for research and development in the sector, encouraging companies to invest in new materials that are not only sustainable but also meet the evolving regulatory landscape.

By setting stringent requirements and targets, the EU aims to reduce the environmental impact of packaging and foster innovation in the industry. As this sector continues to evolve, it will play a critical role in achieving the ambitious goals set forth by this legislation, to begin rollout by the end of April.

Golden Arrow is proud to contribute to a circular economy future as a pioneer in developing, manufacturing, and producing bio-based packaging solutions through our bamboo and bagasse materials. We create completely biodegradable, high-quality packaging in our net-zero carbon facilities. We'd love to hear from you if you would like to contact us for any and all of your packaging needs. Contact us here.