PPWR – environmental roulette

November 30, 2022, The European Union has published a proposal for a European Parliament and Council regulation on packaging and packaging waste (PPWR) to replace the existing “Packaging Directive.”

The European Commission has found that the large and growing volumes of packaging produced, as well as the low rate of reuse and insufficient recycling, are significant barriers to achieving a low-carbon, circular economy. For these reasons, it was decided to establish regulations for the entire life cycle of packaging that will contribute to the smooth functioning of the internal market through harmonization of national measures, while preventing and reducing the negative impact of packaging and packaging waste on the environment and human health. By defining measures in line with the waste hierarchy, the regulation should contribute to the transition to a circular economy.

According to the Legislator, the initiative provides for an update of the EU’s legislative framework for packaging and packaging waste, ensuring that Member States and companies are adequately supported in achieving their waste reduction goals. This support takes the form of a harmonized regulatory framework that aims to encourage investment, reduce waste and promote high-quality recycling, and which will apply equally across all EU member states.

This project has key implications for recyclers and the packaging industry including paper and corrugated packaging. It could potentially spell armageddon for the corrugated industry, as to everyone’s surprise, going against the Green Deal, the circular economy’s assumptions promote a single solution for all packaging materials without considering the long-term environmental impact. It introduces a number of requirements for packaging entering the EU market such as reusability issues. Focusing on this one aspect of the circular economy almost completely forgets the complementarity of the recycling process and ignores solutions that have worked well for many years. The lack of consideration of environmental, economic and social aspects results in rather surprising proposals leading us straight to the creation of a “plastic society.”

Each of us is a citizen, and out of concern for the environment in which we live today, and in which future generations will live, we are ready to do a lot to meaningfully remodel the practice of our economic life today. However, the change that the implementation of the Green Deal is supposed to be is a real revolution, and it is hard to resist the impression that it is being implemented before our eyes in a way that is absolutely out of control and unreflective about the long-term effects of the proposed regulations – on industry, the people of Europe (the EU) and its environment.

Can the Green Deal, as well as the PPWR itself, be an opportunity for our industry and corrugated board packaging? Or, on the contrary, will it hit us and we are rather struggling to figure out how to minimize the impact? We are concerned that the current battlefield picture we observe monitoring the progress of the PPWR in the EC does not give grounds for joy and hope for new opportunities for the corrugated industry.

The above is just an excerpt from an article on issues related to the PPWR project – the entire article was published in No. 8/2023 of the Polish Paper Review. The authors of the article are: Paweł Rogalka, 1st Vice President of SPP and Chairman of the Corrugated Board Section, and Katarzyna Godlewska, Director of the SPP office. We encourage you to read it.

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Stowarzyszenie Papierników Polskich
The Association of Polish Papermakers

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