Proposed changes to EU packaging regulations set to impact UK

On 30 November 2022, the European Commission published an update to the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (PPWD) as part of the Circular Economy package.

A key change that has been proposed is that the legislation will be upgraded to a regulation, meaning mandatory implementation in all EU Member States.

An overarching objective of the draft EU regulation (PPWR) is to reduce packaging production and associated waste, alongside improving recyclability and boosting recycled content markets. There are also several ambitious proposals surrounding reuse and refill, including that 20% of cold and hot beverages should be served in reusable containers by 2030 (and 80% by 2040).

The targets also include packaging reduction per capita in Member States, such as a 15% decrease on 2018 levels by 2040, design criteria for all packaging to increase recycling rates, and mandatory compostability for some packaging types such as coffee pods.

The existing directive was transposed into UK law pre-EU exit, meaning under the Northern Irish Protocol the changes resultant of the regulation will likely need to be implemented there. 

Impact on UK producers and policy

A recent report by the European Scrutiny Committee, after a review of evidence, has asked environment minister Rebecca Pow to explain the impact of the PPWR on Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK in more detail next month.

This is because Government believes that manufacturers and producers of packaging will likely ensure all of their products conform with the new EU legislation, regardless of where it is sold. Although some of the proposed reforms will align with developing UK regulations, government and the devolved administrations ‘will need to, at least, be aware of EU policy developments as domestic policy evolves’.  

The Regulation will need to move through the European parliament to be passed, and as yet there is no clear indication as to when that might occur. It’s also unclear whether the rest of the UK – excluding Northern Ireland – will follow the EU’s lead. Given most packaging will likely conform to EU standards anyway, to ease manufacturing burdens, we hope it will be considered.

Find out more about packaging Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) in the UK.

Written by Louisa Goodfellow Published 22/02/2023 Topics International
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