Press Release
27 Oct 2014

Packaging supply chain calls for circular economy that promotes sustainable growth and competitiveness

EUROPEN Statement ahead of the Environment Council meeting on 28 October 2014

Brussels, 27 October 2014 – Ahead of the Environment Council meeting tomorrow in Luxembourg, packaging material producers, packaging producers, brand owners and national packaging organisations call on ministers to remain focused on how the European Commission’s proposed Circular Economy package will contribute towards Europe’s economic recovery and sustainable growth. This is crucial for the competitiveness of the packaging supply chain in Europe, which encompasses different material and packaging types and cross-sectoral packaged goods companies that are committed to improving the environmental performance of packaged goods.

The packaging supply chain, represented by EUROPEN, supports the overall aim to further transition to a Circular Economy, and believes that any new packaging waste targets must be achievable, comparable and measurable, taking into account current performances in the 28 Member States. Currently, it is unclear whether the proposed packaging waste targets can be considered feasible because, at the same time, a new calculation method has been proposed, which would impact Member States’ current reported rates. EUROPEN therefore calls on EU policymakers to fully understand the impact of the new proposed methodology for calculating packaging recycling rates on Member States’ current reported rates before discussing new and restructured targets.

Clarifying the baseline as well as the achievability of the proposed packaging waste targets are key concerns to the packaging supply chain because in most cases it is the producers/ importers who are legally obliged to help meet national recycling and recovery targets via Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) schemes for used packaging. Producers have funded and managed many EPR schemes for over 20 years, and industry efforts have led to significant progress in optimising packaging and its end-of-life management, which is reflected in an overall EU packaging recycling rate of 64.6% .

New and competing EPR schemes have emerged over the last decade, with different ownership structures, legal requirements and rules. In order to reach current and new packaging recycling targets, EUROPEN therefore welcomes the proposed minimum requirements on EPR, which aim to achieve greater transparency and fair competition among these various EPR schemes in Europe. In addition, EUROPEN recommends introducing packaging-specific minimum requirements for EPR in the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive to address the specificities and legal needs of EPR in a packaging context, in line with the other EU waste stream directives.

However, regarding the proposed financial requirements, EUROPEN recommends setting clear limits to where the producer’s extended responsibility ends, in order to avoid imposing potentially unlimited costs and a disproportionate burden on European industries that strive to contribute to the EU’s jobs, growth, competitiveness and investment objectives. Therefore, EUROPEN cannot support the proposed obligation on producers/ importers to cover the entire cost of waste management and recommends clarifying the limits of EPR through EU guidance on the roles and responsibilities of all actors involved in the implementation of EPR, including local and national authorities.

Finally, EUROPEN reminds ministers that the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive is a fundamental legal instrument for guaranteeing the free movement of packaged goods in the EU Internal Market as a safeguard against protectionist measures and/or market distortions. EUROPEN therefore calls on EU policymakers to refrain from requiring Member States to adopt national packaging design requirements or packaging re-use targets, which would undermine the Internal Market. 

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Notes for Editors:

EUROPEN -- the European Organization for packaging and the Environment -- is an EU industry association in Brussels presenting the opinion of the packaging supply chain in Europe, without favouring any specific material or system. EUROPEN members are comprised of multinational corporate companies spanning the packaging value chain (raw material producers, converters and brand owners) plus six national packaging organizations all committed to continuously improving the environmental performances of packaged products, in collaboration with their suppliers and customers.

For more information, see on our website EUROPEN’s position paper on the EU Waste Targets Review and EUROPEN Members list.