PPWR: Parliament and Council reach provisional agreement

March 8th, 2024

On 4 March, the European Parliament and Council reached a provisional agreement on revamped rules to reduce, reuse and recycle packaging, aiming to boost the circular economy, through the proposed Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR).

The agreement sets packaging reduction targets (5% by 2030, 10% by 2035 and 15% by 2040) and requires EU countries to reduce, in particular, the amount of plastic packaging waste.

According to the deal, certain single-use plastic packaging formats – such as packaging for unprocessed fresh fruit and vegetables, packaging for foods and beverages filled and consumed in cafés and restaurants, and individual portions of condiments and sauces, for example – will be banned from 1 January 2030.

Also, very lightweight plastic carrier bags (below 15 microns) will be banned with some exemptions (for hygiene reasons or to prevent food wastage).

The new rules will set a maximum empty space ratio of 50% in grouped, transport and e-commerce packaging, and require manufacturers and importers to ensure that the weight and volume of packaging are minimised.

The text sets new binding re-use targets for 2030 and indicative targets for 2040.

The targets vary depending on the type of packaging used by operators: alcoholic and non‑alcoholic beverages (excluding wine and aromatised wines, milk and other highly perishable beverages), transport and sales packaging (excluding packaging used for dangerous goods or large-scale equipment and flexible packaging in direct contact with food) and grouped packaging. Cardboard packaging is also generally exempted from these requirements.

Moreover, it has been agreed that all packaging should be recyclable, fulfilling strict criteria to be defined through secondary legislation.

By 2029, member states must ensure the separate collection per annum of at least 90% of single-use plastic bottles and metal beverage containers. To achieve this target, they are required to set up deposit return systems (DRSs) for these packaging formats unless they achieve the 90% target with an alternative system by 2029.

Finally, the provisional agreement will also require minimum recycled content in plastic packaging, exempting compostable plastic packaging and packaging whose plastic component represents less than 5% of the packaging’s total weight.

As the next and final step, Parliament and Council need to formally approve the agreement before it can enter into force.

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