The European landscape for packaging waste is set to undergo a significant transformation. The European Union is championing the 'Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation', with plans to introduce sweeping changes next year. For the Dutch food industry, a major consumer of packaging materials, this promises to be a period of adjustment and innovation.
The Netherlands uses three million tons of packaging material annually. While a considerable amount is recycled, an alarming 700 kilotons end up in the waste stream. But the problem is not solely a national one: the EU discards nearly 30 million tons of packaging material every year. In response, the EU is now targeting a drastic reduction of this waste pile.
The proposed measures under the PPWR focus on three main areas:
Prevention: The EU aims to reduce the amount of packaging material by set percentages by 2030, 2035, and 2040. Member states have the freedom to determine their methods, ranging from banning single-use plastics to minimizing packaging.
Raw Material Reuse: The EU is now setting higher standards for recycling. By 2030, at least 70% of all packaging material must be recycled, with specific targets for different materials. The Netherlands faces a particular challenge with plastic packaging.
Raw Material Availability: An effective recycling cycle requires well-organized collection structures. The PPWR calls for detailed collection plans, with a special focus on single-use plastics and aluminum cans, including the introduction of deposit systems by 2029.
This regulation will not only compel packaging producers to make changes but will also necessitate the food industry to revise its operations. This could result in changes in the quality, shelf life, and production processes of food products. Consumers will also have to play their part, as seen from recent initiatives in the Netherlands regarding deposits and single-use plastics.
As for the future, discussions between the European Parliament and member states will take place over the coming months. The final decision is expected in the spring of 2024, after which it will take another 6-12 months for the new rules to be fully implemented in national legislations.