Significant Updates to the EU Packaging Laws in November 2022

The European Union (EU) has recently implemented new regulations on plastic packaging in an effort to reduce plastic waste and protect the environment.

Under the new law, which came into effect on January 1st, 2021, all plastic packaging placed on the EU market must contain at least 30% recycled plastic. 

The law introduces new requirements for certain types of plastic packaging, including single-use cutlery, plates, straws, cotton buds, and stirrers. These items must be made exclusively from sustainable materials, such as paper, by the end of 2023.

Additionally to this law which was initiated in 2019, there has been an update to the law in November 2022 which may have some serious implications for Europe.

What do the updates mean?

The updates on the packaging laws in the EU may lead to a massive increase in the separate collection of plastic packaging. 

There is also the potential for deposit-schemes becoming mandatory across the whole of the EU, whereby all businesses will be forced to offer a deposit scheme for the plastic waste that they sell.

The goal of this according to the EU is to ensure that ''all packaging on the EU market is reusable or recyclable in an economically viable way by 2030”. It will also contribute to the commitment of the 2018 Plastic Strategy to ensure that by 2030 all plastics packaging placed on the market can be reused or recycled in a cost-effective manner”.

The implementation of this law will likely take place in 2024 and beyond, but businesses in all countries within the EU must prepare for and look to prepare for the new strict rules which will soon effect them.

According to the EU this update will lead to:

  • targets for packaging waste reduction at country level, and mandatory reuse targets for economic operators for selected packaging groups
  • restricting over-packaging and certain forms of unnecessary packaging, and supporting reuse and refill systems
  • establishing criteria for design for recycling to be applied to all packaging
  • minimum inclusion rates for recycled content in plastic packaging
  • mandatory deposit return systems for plastic bottles and aluminum cans
  • harmonised labelling of packaging and waste bins to facilitate correct consumer disposal of packaging waste

For some products, there will be a mandatory requirement for their packaging to be compostable, where composting is environmentally beneficial.

With the current lack of current commercial composting facilities EU-wide, and the possible difficulties involved in making recycled plastic food-safe, this will create a massive shortage of composting facilities which means there is an opportunity now to develop capable composting facilities in preperation for this expected surge in demand.

While the new law has been praised by many, there are also concerns about the potential impact on businesses and consumers. Countries such as Germany are already ahead of the curve in systems such as deposit returns, but for a lot of the EU, this will likely involve a huge change in operating systems for governments and businesses, as well as a fundamental human behavioural change in the way that we deal with waste. 

Countries which reach a 90% collection rate of the targeted packaging types without a deposit and return system for 2 consecutive years may request not to establish a deposit and return system, but this level of collection is definitely a challenge to acheive without there being financial incentives for consumers.

Overall, the new EU law on plastic packaging represents a significant a positive shift towards more sustainable and environmentally-friendly practices. It will only be the companies and governments who are prepared for this that benefit and thrive from it, whilst those who do not make the shift will likely expereince difficulties.

Click the link to learn more about the specifics  of the law and to know which products will be affected  


At Tapari, we believe that truly compostable and natural disposables are the best way forward, because the plastic waste collection issue is only one aspect of the problem, and pseudo-biodegradable products, if littered on the side of the road for example, will take decades to disappear and are no better than plastic from the perspective of environmental health.


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