Inside Brussels – Alexis Van Maercke on steel for packaging in EU policy discussions

It might be another record year for steel recycling but it’s not the case for all packaging materials, and EU commitment to a more circular economy is stepping up with the 2022 review of the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (PPWD).

This Directive 94/62/EC is the basis of the European legal framework for packaging products, and is key for implementing the new Circular Economy Action Plan (CEAP) 2.0, cornerstone of the ambitious European Green Deal. It contains provisions on the prevention of packaging waste, on the re-use of packaging and on the recovery and recycling of packaging waste and is periodically reviewed.

The previous review in 2018 set new packaging recycling targets per material for EU member states. With the 2022 review, we expect the proposal of a clear set of new rules accompanied by an annex with updated or new standards. At APEAL we are looking forward to a strong focus on essential requirements – that all packaging be re-usable or recyclable by 2030.

Whilst there will be no change in the existing material targets in 2025 and 2030 under this review, mandatory waste reduction targets of 10% per Member State will be on the table, looking at overpackaging, for example in food service packaging, and applying the best-in-class principle.

Another area of focus is likely to be reducing the complexity of packaging materials, including the number of materials and polymers used, for example in multi-layered cartons.

It will be a tight schedule with launch of the proposed review in Q1 2022 followed by the start of the co-decision procedure in the European Parliament and the Council.

In the meantime, APEAL welcomes the opportunity to integrate those thematic stakeholder workshops that are relevant to the packaging sector to be organised in the coming weeks.

In line with our recently released recycling vision of zero steel packaging to landfill by 2025, we will be keen to accelerate the phasing out of recyclable packaging waste being sent to landfill.  

In the knowledge that landfill will be more comprehensively addressed by the Landfill Directive, whose review is scheduled for 2024 in parallel with the review of the Waste Framework Directive.