New EU waste reduction targets aim to make all packaging recyclable by 2040

New EU waste reduction targets aim to make all packaging recyclable by 2040

At the end of November, the European Commission announced it would be stepping up its targets with regards to reducing packaging waste, implementing reuse systems, and boosting the use of recycled materials across all packaging formats. Here are some of the key takeaways: 


Acting now to reduce packaging waste

The Commission justified its decision by recalling that each European generates almost 180 kg of packaging waste per year. Without significant action, Europe could see a 19% increase in packaging waste within the next ten years alongside a 46% increase in plastic packaging waste.

The proposed revised EU legislation on Packaging and Packaging Waste has three main targets: to promote reusable and refillable packaging solutions, increase the use of recycled materials and foster high quality “closed loop” recycling, i.e make all packaging on the European market recyclable in an economically viable way. According to the Commission, this could lead to a 15% reduction in packaging waste by 2040 per member state per capita as compared to 2018, and an overall waste reduction of 37%.

Why plastics and composite materials are problematic

While current recycling rates vary from country to country, multi-material packaging remains an issue. Some recycling facilities are able to handle composite packaging materials such as those containing plastics and/or foils, but the process is complex and energy-intensive. What’s more, consumers object to the time-consuming process of separating packaging materials and placing them in the right containers.

Mono-material packaging is therefore a great option for companies wanting to get ahead of their sustainability commitments. Metallized paper offers comparable technical and aesthetic benefits to multilayer alternatives, while being 100% recyclable via conventional facilities.