The EU reaches a provisional agreement on the Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation

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On Monday, 4 March, co-legislators reached a deal on the Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation. This provisional political agreement will still have to go through several steps before its finalisation. Member States are expected to approve the text on 15 March, and the European Parliament will give its green light to the text during its last Plenary session, during the week of 22 April. The deal and its new requirements are therefore being clarified after further technical discussions took place in the days following the agreement.  

As companies dive into this new Regulation, what are some of the main changes and new requirements which could be relevant for the e-commerce sector?  

Firstly, the new Regulation establishes a number of safety and sustainability requirements for packaging that will be placed on the European market in the future. This includes for example new requirements for the recyclability of packaging, the presence of substances of concerns like PFAS, minimum recycled content and so on.  Importantly, it also lays down harmonised labelling requirements for several aspects of packaging, including labels related to new sustainability requirements. While the text does not provide for harmonised labelling for certain areas such as Extended Producer Responsibility, it does offer new possibilities for digital labelling.  

The Regulation also creates a number of waste prevention measures. This includes the intensely discussed binding re-use targets for different types of packaging, from transport to sales and food packaging. The text does include a series of exemptions to those targets specified in the Regulation, which will potentially impact companies’ strategies.  

In terms of waste management measures, the Regulation also lays down restriction on certain types of single-use packaging and will require economic operators to minimise the packaging that they use and place of the market (including a maximum of 50% void-space limit for transport, grouped and e-commerce packaging). 

The text also presents new requirements in relation to Extended Producer Responsibility in relation to packaging, with the setting-up of new national EPR registries where producers will have to register and demonstrate compliance. This will come hand in hand with new requirements for online sales, specifically in relation to selling via online marketplaces.  

The timeline on the entry into force will have to be clarified once the text has entered into force and one the work on secondary legislation has begun, but the first new requirements are likely to enter into application by the end of 2026. 

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