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Packaging Industry Urges EU to Embolden Circular Economy Strategy
The European Organisation for Packaging and the Environment (EUROPEN) and 35 other associations1 representing a wide range of sectors including major consumer goods brands, packaging producers, material producers and extended producer responsibility (EPR) organizations have presented the European Union with a set of joint recommendations for its circular economy legislative proposals.
The 36 associations are calling for a long-term, ambitious EU policy framework that enables and facilitates sustainable resource use from a full life-cycle perspective, incentivizes economies of scale and takes into account value chains at all levels, each with their different functional needs, supply and demand realities.
“Our proposals aim at reinforcing the current EU policy framework, preserving the environment and re-launching European competitiveness, quality jobs and sustainable growth,” said Martin Reynolds, Crown Europe and EUROPEN Chairman. “Packaging plays a central role in a Circular Economy by optimizing resource use and minimizing product waste. We call on the EU to recognize its cross-sectoral function by preserving a full life-cycle approach in legislation, since packaging is intrinsically connected to the product it contains and its value chain,” underlined Reynolds.
The joint industry recommendations call on the European Parliament and the Council to ensure that the Circular Economy Package:
- Safeguards the free movement of packaging and packaged goods in the EU Internal Market;
- Enshrines a full life-cycle approach;
- Strengthens the EU legal framework for Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for used packaging;
- Avoids legal requirements that mandate additional packaging reuse systems alongside existing EPR systems and avoid related national measures that will distort the Internal Market
- Sets realistic and achievable packaging “preparing for reuse”/recycling targets based on known staring points, as well as a harmonized and clarified measurement point and calculation methodology.
“Safeguarding the Internal Market is essential to give companies in the packaging value chain the confidence to invest and innovate to meet the environmental, growth, and competitiveness objectives of the Circular Economy Package. We must avoid measures that could lead to divergent national packaging design requirements, as these would create de facto trade barriers for all packaged goods”, said EUROPEN Managing Director Virginia Janssens. “Instead, we need a robust, evidence-based European framework that sets ambitious yet realistic targets, is based on a harmonized calculation method and enables operators to build on over two decades of success in growing packaging recycling rates through efficient, transparent and fair Extended Producer Responsibility schemes.”
Since the release of the EU's first pass at a circular economy proposal in December, projections have continued to emerge that point to multiple business cases for the approach, not only in terms of direct financial benefits for Europe's economy, but also as a key instrument in mitigating climate change through a decrease in harmful emissions.
While governments continue to mull over the possibilities, the private sector has begun to collaborate on various circular strategies — from redesigning products to forming both Stateside and European networks for materials recovery and reuse.