Packaging Regulation: the concerns of operators

The result of ItaliaImballaggio’s recent survey: for 75% of interviewees, the PPWR will have negative effect on companies and the solutions proposed will be difficult to put into practice.

Davide Miserendino

Operators in the packaging world have no doubts: the new European regulation on packaging could create difficulties - and quite a few - for their companies. This is what emerges from the survey that ItaliaImballaggio has put to readers in the last few weeks, during the “heated” days before the latest meeting of the Trilogue, the European summit in which the Council and Parliament meet, with the mediation of the Commission. The EU institutions assign to these ‘informal meetings’ the task of converging on a single text after Brussels (headquarters of the Council) and Strasbourg (where the Members of Parliament meet) had voted different versions of the new regulations.

The risks of food waste have been undervalued

The survey - which involved around a hundred companies - aimed at shining some light on the more controversial aspects of the PPWR (the acronym that stands for Packaging & Packaging Waste Regulation) and was aimed at producers of packaging machines and equipment, producers of packaging materials and producers of consumer goods. Over 75% of the companies that took part work in the Food & Beverage sector. As mentioned, in this phase the main frame of mind is concern: 42% of interviewees consider, in fact, that the new regulation will have a strong negative effect on their business, and one out of two feel that the impact will be quite negative. Very few, instead, have no concerns: only 3% of the total.

Regarding the more “indigestible” aspects, the operators involved indicated, as a first problem, the presence of solutions which are difficult to implement (76%), going hand-in-hand with lack of clarity in the provisions (47%). 50% of interviewees claim, moreover, that the risks linked to food waste have been undervalued (due, for example, to the prohibition of a series of disposable plastic containers). The too “horizontal” approach of the regulation is also criticised: for 46% of the sample, there is insufficient attention given to the specific situation of single countries. The view of interviewees appears to be fragmented with regards to the PPWR’s main merits. 37% agree with the importance of imposing a strong reduction, fixed by the EU at 15%, in waste produced by packaging by 2040.

The same figure of 37% have underlined the importance of promoting reuse as an alternative to recycling. The prohibition of so-called ‘forever chemicals’ in food packaging is agreed to by 32% of interviewees, while the idea of abandoning a large part of disposable packaging has convinced one operator out of four, taking the sample as a reference. It should be pointed out that 25% of interviewees claimed not to agree with any of the above objectives.

Fears for the Single Market

Summarising, almost 70% of the professionals involved claim that the limits of reuse, as well as the risk of food waste and the costs for washing and sanitisation treatments, have not been sufficiently taken into consideration; 65% reject the regulation (it was “in progress” at the time, but the main points are maintained in the final text) considering it too biased towards ideological and not scientific positions; 47% pointed out that the unclear indications on application of the rules in the various countries posed a risk to the Single Market. More than 40% of the sample declared to be in favour, however, of the ban on the use of a number of disposable packaging items, such as the mini packages used by hotels for toiletries and shrink film for suitcases at airports. The importance of inverting the current trend, which has seen packaging in the EU rise from 66 million tonnes in 2009 to 82 million tonnes in 2021, finally, was indicated as a priority by only 22% of interviewees.

Note. ItaliaImballaggio will continue to follow the evolution of the regulation and the opinions of operators, which will be gradually published on the site and disseminated via the social networks.

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