How does the future European Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation affect you?

César Aliaga- Responsable de la Unidad de Envases y Economía Circular

The European Commission has presented a draft with new rules and targets for all packaging

*(updated July 2024)

The European Commission published on 30 November 2022 the draft of the future European Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR), which will affect all packaging manufactured or used in the Member States of the European Union (EU), regardless of the material, whether plastic, glass, aluminium or paper and cardboard, to mention just a few materials. At this time, it was approved by the European Parliament on 24 April 2024 and we are a few months away from its final implementation after the approval of the Council of the European Union.
Read on if you want to know the main objectives and measures included in this regulation. We will talk about:

1. The three objectives of the draft European Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation

The draft sets out three key objectives: the prevention of packaging waste, the promotion of reuse and refilling, and the target for all packaging to be recyclable by 2030.


The European Commission wants to reduce the number of new packaging items. The first step is to reduce their quantity, weight and volume, restrict unnecessary packaging, and promote reusable and refillable packaging.

Reglamento Europeo Envases y Residuos de Envases

The packaging sector is one of the largest consumers of virgin materials. According to the European body, 40% of plastics and 50% of paper used in the EU are destined for packaging.

Furthermore, the Commission considers that, if the measures set out in the draft regulation are not implemented, packaging waste will increase by a further 19% by 2030 and, in the case of plastic packaging waste, even by 46%.

Among some of the packaging that will disappear, there are some very present in our daily lives, such as single-use packaging for food and drinks consumed in restaurants and cafes (e.g. sugar sachets), single-use packaging for fruit and vegetables, single-use shampoo bottles and other hotel packaging.

Reuse and refilling of packaging

In line with the figures mentioned above, the draft European Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation aims to reduce packaging waste by 15% by 2040, per person and per Member State compared to 2018 figures. Different sectors will have different percentages and intermediate targets set up to that date (5% reduction compared to 2018 for 2030 and 10% for 2035).

Evaluación y sistemas de envases reutilizables

As far as reuse is concerned, companies will have to offer consumers a certain percentage of their products in reusable or refillable packaging. For example, in 2040 a percentage of takeaway beverage sales will have to be served in reusable containers and, in the case of non-reusable containers, establishments will have to make containers available to their customers for recycling. The standardisation of packaging formats and clearer labelling of reusable packaging is also proposed.

Another aspect addressed in the draft European Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation is the introduction of mandatory deposit and return schemes for plastic bottles and aluminium cans. But, for a reusable container to be used again, packaging reuse systems must be available, both for household and commercial and industrial packaging. ITENE helps companies in this aspect in the following way: we assess whether the packaging is reusable; if not, we help in its design so that it adapts to the technical needs derived from its reuse and the reconditioning/refilling system; and we develop packaging reuse systems.

Recyclable packaging by 2030

The European Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation stipulates that by 2030 all packaging circulating on the EU market will have to be recyclable in an economically viable way.

Real Decreto de Envases y Residuos de Envases

To this end, high-quality recycling (closed loop) and the creation of a secondary raw materials market will be promoted to help reduce the need for virgin materials. In this sense, there will be a series of binding targets to increase the amount of recycled plastic available to converters.

2. Labelling of packaging: new obligations

There will no longer be any doubt as to which container each type of packaging waste should be thrown into, as new labelling obligations are established, such as, for example, the use of the same symbols throughout the EU. Thus, according to the draft European Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation, it will be necessary to indicate what materials it is made of and to which waste stream it corresponds. To reinforce this aspect, containers will also have to have the same identification symbols, to facilitate the separate collection of packaging waste.

In addition, as mentioned above, the labelling of reusable packaging will make it easily identifiable and distinguishable from single-use packaging at points of sale.

3.How the European Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation affects businesses

Apart from the objectives and measures we have outlined, according to the European Commission, the future European Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation will create new business opportunities, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises. In addition, industry will have more recycled material available, as Europe’s recycling capacity increases, and there will be less dependence on primary resources and external suppliers. All this in line with the climate neutrality in 2050 that Europe has set itself with the Green Deal.

Another aspect that will affect companies is the applications of bioplastics, compostable plastics and biodegradable plastics. This will determine the extent to which they are environmentally beneficial and how they should be designed, disposed of and recycled.

4. How the European Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation affects consumers

Consumers will have many more reusable packaging options available to them, although many single-use packaging items will disappear to eliminate unnecessary packaging. It will also be much clearer which container to use to recycle each package thanks to the labelling changes.


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    César Aliaga
    César Aliaga

    Responsable de la Unidad de Envases y Economía Circular de ITENE

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