A Considerable Dose of Realism Improves the European Parliament's Position on the Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation
The European Parliament passed the contentious Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR) during the plenary session with a vote of 426–125. Some of the concerns raised by the forest industry were taken into consideration.
The Finnish Forest Industries Federation is quite pleased with the outcome of the European Parliament's vote in advancing the PPWR.
"It's particularly crucial that proposed reuse targets and prohibitions on packaging types included flexibilities and exemptions. Single-use, recyclable food and beverage packaging, along with packaging for fruits and vegetables, were removed from the list of prohibitions," summarizes Aaron Vuola, Manager of Circular Economy and Environment at the Finnish Forest Industries Federation.
Regarding pivotal reuse targets for the forestry industry, the Parliament voted in favor of exceptions based on recycling and packaging collection. Additionally, a general exemption was granted for cases where the primary packaging material reaches an 85 % recycling rate. Reuse targets for the takeaway sector were removed. Nonetheless, ambitious reuse targets for transit packaging remained in force.
"Despite these reuse targets, according to the forest industry’s interpretation, a recycling-based exemption may also apply to transit packaging. The condition is that the material achieves an 85 % recycling rate."
A positive aspect of the Parliament's PPWR vote is the consideration given to biobased plastics when reviewing obligations for recycled plastic content. Clear guidelines for this are proposed in the near future.
Vuola also expresses satisfaction with the Parliament's proposed new definition for composite packaging:
"It's important that the definition of composite packaging excludes coatings and barriers. Furthermore, it's good that high-quality recycling doesn't solely imply closed-loop recycling, which isn't always suitable for recyclable materials in the forestry industry, ranging from various packaging types to insulation materials."
Based on the Parliament's PPWR position, Vuola sees this as a promising starting point for further negotiations next year in trilogues with the European Council and the Commission.
"For the forest industry, it's crucial that the final position recognizes recycling and reuse as equal methods for reducing packaging waste, and that separate collection of certain packaging waste is improved. Yesterday's vote sent a clear message that we're making strides towards this goal. Therefore, it's gratifying that more member states, particularly Finland and Italy, have actively engaged in shaping the Council's final position regarding recyclability goals."
The EU's Environmental Council will finalize its PPWR stance on 18th December 2023.