- Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive:
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Why this directive:
“Packaging is necessary to protect and to transport goods. Packaging is also a key environmental concern. It is one of the main users of virgin materials (40 % of plastics and 50 % of paper used in the EU is destined for packaging).”
What are the main elements related to pallets:
- The reuse of packaging, including pallets, is promoted at European level as the preferred solution for reducing packaging waste:
“To promote the circularity and sustainable use of packaging, reusable packaging and systems for re-use should be incentivised. For that purpose, it is necessary to clarify the notion of reusable packaging and to ensure that it is linked not only to the packaging design, which should enable a maximum number of trips or rotations and maintaining the safety, quality and hygiene requirements when being emptied, unloaded, refilled or reloaded, but also to the setting up of systems for re-use respecting minimum requirements as set out in this Regulation. In order to facilitate conformity assessment with requirements on reusable packaging, it is necessary to provide for presumption of conformity for packaging which is in conformity with harmonised standards adopted in accordance with Regulation (EU) No 1025/2012 for the purpose of expressing detailed technical specifications of those requirements and define reusable packaging criteria and formats, including minimum number of trips or rotations, standardised designs, as well as requirements for systems for re-use, including hygiene requirements.”
“In order to further the aim of circularity and sustainable use of packaging, it is necessary to limit the risk that packaging marketed as reusable is not re-used in practice and to ensure that consumers return reusable packaging. The most appropriate manner to achieve this is to oblige economic operators, who use reusable packaging, to ensure that a system for re-use is put in place, thus allowing such packaging to circulate, rotate and be repeatedly used. To ensure maximum benefits of such systems, minimum requirements should be laid down for open loop and closed loop systems. Confirmation of compliance of reusable packaging with an existing system for re-use should also be a part of the technical documentation of such packaging.”
- The movement of transport packaging (pallets, crates, drums, IBCs, boxes, etc.) between sites of a same operator, such as a manufacturer or distributor, must be done using reusable packaging, especially when it replaces single-use transport packaging:
“Certain uses of single use transport packaging formats are not necessary, as there is a wide range of well-functioning reusable alternatives. In order to ensure that such alternatives are effectively used, it is appropriate to require economic operators, when transporting products between different sites of the same economic operator or between the economic operator and the linked or partner enterprises, to use only reusable transport packaging with respect to packaging formats such as pallets, foldable plastic boxes, plastic crates, intermediate bulk containers, both rigid and flexible, or drums. The same obligation should, for the same reasons, apply to economic operators transporting products within one Member State.“
“It is therefore suggested that the following items, which have some precedent for removal already, could be gradually eliminated from the EU market: Transit packaging:
- Single-use transit packaging used between sites and subsidiaries of a company, or group of companies, within the EU. This measure would include) but not be limited to) pallets, pallet systems, boxes, trays, crates, intermediate bulk containers (IBCs) (rigid and flexible), drums and cannisters of all sizes and materials.
- Single-use large transit packaging, notably pallets, pallet systems, boxes, IBCs, drums and crates, above a certain size (to be determined), used between companies for deliveries within a Member State.”
- This also applies to trade between economic operators. The one-way pallet will be stopped except for small producers:
“Economic operators delivering products to another economic operator within the same Member State shall use only reusable transport packaging for the purpose of the transportation of such products. This obligation applies to pallets, boxes, excluding cardboard, plastic crates intermediate bulk containers, and drums, of all sizes and materials, including flexible formats.“
- An initial target of 30% reusable packaging in 2030 may seem modest, but 90% in 2040 for pallets and trays. This promotes reusable solutions:
“Economic operators using transport packaging in the form of pallets, plastic crates, foldable plastic boxes, pails and drums for the conveyance or packaging of products in conditions other than provided for under paragraphs 12 and 13 shall ensure that: (a) from 1 January 2030, 30 % of such packaging used is reusable packaging within a system for re-use; (b) from 1 January 2040, 90 % of such packaging used is reusable packaging within a system for re-use.“
- A review of the targets after 8 years should take place:
By [OP: Please insert the date = 8 years after the date of entry into force of this Regulation], the Commission shall review the situation regarding reuse of packaging and, on this basis, assess the appropriateness of establishing measures, reviewing the targets laid down in this Article, and setting new targets for the reuse and refill of packaging, and where necessary present a legislative proposal.
- An obligation to identify packaging will be introduced but will not apply to reusable packaging:
“Article 11 requires that packaging is marked with a label containing information on its material composition in order to facilitate consumer sorting. The same labels shall be placed on waste receptacles for the consumer to easily identify the appropriate disposal route (Article 12). Harmonized label shall be designed also to inform, at the choice of the manufacturer, about the recycled content in plastic packaging. Reusable packaging shall bear a QR code or other type of data carrier giving access to the relevant information facilitating its re-use. The Commission shall be empowered to, by implementing acts, establish harmonised labelling requirements and formats for packaging and waste receptacles as well as for identifying the material composition of packaging means of digital marking technologies.”
- Europe wants to facilitate and promote reuse systems, in particular by setting up a deposit system. However, this should be understood as a deposit system aimed at consumers at state level and there is no promotion of deposits at company level:
“Article 45 requires Members States to take measures to encourage the increase of systems to enable re-use. Such measures can be e.g. the use of deposit-return systems for packaging which is not covered by the deposit return systems mandated by Article 44“
- Standards 13428 and 13429 will need to be reviewed. These standards relate to reuse. This remains a key point to be negotiated by the professional organisations. The renegotiation of standards only takes place after several years; we must not miss the passing train:
“The list of the packaging performance criteria, as listed in the existing harmonised standard EN 13428:2000
“M10a Revision of existing CEN standard The Commission would request CEN to update the current standard EN 13429:2004 with regards to definition of reusable packaging, reusable packaging format and design, reuse systems requirements, return infrastructure and incentivising consumers, supply chain and logistics as well as public engagement. The updated standard will provide a reference point for industry to improve the performance of reuse systems and facilitate their adoption. The effectiveness of this measure is increased when it is complemented by measures 10b and 10c. The administrative burden is mainly related to the development of an updated standard based on Commission’s formal request.
M10c Definition and mandatory standards for reuse systems, in terms of incentives, infrastructure, logistics, required reporting etc., set in legislation and standard This measure consists of improved legal definition of reusable packaging focusing on establishing requirements for reuse systems, both in the legislation and via a request to CEN to standardise specific reuse systems. Namely, due to a range of reuse systems (e.g., consumer led (refill) vs industry led (return), B2C vs B2B, home vs on-the-go), it is not possible to define a single set of definitions or requirements for all systems in the legislation. The improved legal definition and standard(-s) are expected to contribute to better defining reusable packaging and improve the performance of reuse systems.
Under this measure, the Commission would request CEN – the European standardisation body – to update the current standard EN 13429:2004 with regards to the definition of reusable packaging, reusable packaging format and design, re-use systems requirements, return infrastructure, supply chain and logistics as well as public engagement and consumer incentives. As under the current system, compliance with the standard would create a presumption of compliance with the PPWD’s essential requirement for reusable packaging, but economic operators could prove compliance also by other means. However, as the adoption of the standard cannot be mandated (the mandate must be accepted by CEN), the Commission could opt to develop voluntary guidance, in case no agreement can be found on the terms of the revised standard. The CEN standard (or Commission guidance document) would provide a reference point for industry to enable improved performance of re-use systems and facilitate their adoption. It would stimulate innovation in reusable packaging formats and systems over time, so that best practice can be fed back into the standards and variances in systems across the EU can be more easily considered.”
- But also the packaging types definition will have to be reviewed and clarified. In particular the definition of primary, secondary and tertiary packaging:
“Existing CEN and ISO standards cover some types of tertiary packaging, or limited attributes of reusable packaging. The harmonised EU standard EN 13429:2004 can be relied upon by producers to show compliance with the PPWD but lacks sufficient clarity on various aspects of re-use systems for packaging.
Therefore, it would be important the determination of which target should apply in such cases. Finally, the definitions of primary, secondary and tertiary packaging should be updated and made fit for purpose for the implementation of the targets.
- Reusable packaging must be safe to ensure the safety of users throughout the supply chain. As it is already the case:
“Reusable packaging has to be safe for its users. Therefore, economic operators offering their products in reusable packaging have to ensure that, before a reusable packaging is used again, it is subject to a reconditioning process, for which requirements should be laid down.”
- Reusable packaging is not considered as waste as long as it is used. They become waste when they have to be recycled. Does this have to apply to pallet wood, for example? This is another point to be negotiated by the professional organisations:
“Reusable packaging becomes waste, in the sense of the Article 3(1) of Directive 2008/98/EC, when its holder discards it, intends to discard it or is obligated to discard it. Reusable packaging in a reconditioning process is normally not considered to be waste.“
- Sectoral targets will be defined (to be clarified or negotiated) and put in place as a reference:
“In order to reduce the increasing proportion of packaging that is single use and the growing amounts of packaging waste generated, it is necessary to establish quantitative re-use and refill targets on packaging in sectors, which have been assessed as having the greatest potential for packaging waste reduction, namely food and beverages for take-away, large-white goods and transport packaging.”
- Important definitions to know are proposed in this document:
‘rotation’ means the cycle that reusable packaging accomplishes from the moment it is placed on the market together with the products it is intended to contain, protect, handle, deliver or present, to the moment it is ready for being reused in a system for re-use with a view to it being supplied again to the end users together with the products;
‘trip’ means transfer of packaging, from filling or loading to emptying or unloading, as part of a rotation or on its own;
‘systems for re-use’ means organisational, technical /or financial arrangements, which enable the re-use either in a closed loop or open loop system. Deposit and return systems, when they ensure that packaging is collected for re-use, are considered as part of a ‘system for re-use’;
‘reconditioning’ means an operation necessary to restore a reusable packaging to a functional state for the purpose of its re-use;
‘EPR: Extended Producer Responsibility”
“Packaging shall be considered reusable where if fulfils the following conditions: (a) it has been conceived, designed and placed on the market with the objective to be re-used or refilled; (b) it has been conceived and designed to accomplish as many trips or rotations as possible in normally predictable conditions of use; (c) it can be emptied or unloaded without damage to the packaging, which prevents its re-use; (d) it is capable of being emptied, unloaded, refilled or reloaded while ensuring compliance with the applicable safety and hygiene requirements; (e) it is capable of being reconditioned in accordance with Part B of Annex VI, whilst maintaining its ability to perform its intended function; (f) it can be emptied, unloaded, refilled or reloaded while maintaining the quality and safety of the packaged product and allowing for the attachment of labelling, and the provision of information on the properties of that product and on the packaging itself, including any relevant instructions and information for ensuring safety, adequate use, traceability and shelf-life of the product; (g) it can be emptied, unloaded, refilled or reloaded without risk to the health and safety of those responsible for doing so; (h) it fulfils the requirements specific to recyclable packaging when it becomes waste set out in Article 6.“
- Close pool ou Open pool: la Directive en donne les définitions. This clarifies who does what:
“Requirements for closed loop systems In addition to the general requirements under point 1, the following requirements shall be simultaneously satisfied: (a) The system has reverse logistics facilitating transfer of the packaging from the users or the end users back to the system participants; (b) the system ensures the collection, reconditioning and redistribution of packaging; (c) system participants are obliged to take the packaging back from the collection point if it has been used, collected and stored in accordance with the system rules;“
“Requirements for open loop systems In addition to the general requirements under point 1, the following requirements must be simultaneously satisfied: (a) After packaging is used, the system participant decides whether to re-use the packaging or to pass it to another system participant for re-use; (b) the system ensures that the collection, reconditioning and redistribution of packaging are in place and are generally available; (c) reconditioning meeting the requirements under Part B of this Annex is part of the system.“
- The reconditioning process shall not create risks to the health and safety of those responsible for doing so and strive to reduce its impact on the environment. It shall be operated in accordance with applicable legislation on contact sensitive materials.
- Reconditioning shall cover the following operations adapted to the reusable packaging format and its intended use: (a) assessment of condition of packaging; (b) removal of damaged or non-reusable components; (c) conveyance of removed components to an appropriate recovery process; (d) cleaning and washing according to required hygiene conditions; (e) reparation of packaging; (f) inspection and assessment of fitness-for-purpose.
- Where necessary, cleaning and washing processes should be applied at different stages of the reconditioning and repeated.
- The reconditioned product shall meet health and safety requirements applicable to it.“
- Targets to be achieved for reuse:
“The main form of wooden packaging is non-consumer, wooden pallets, which are used to transport goods.Typically, they are constructed from virgin timber and do not contain any recycled content (though, as anexception, some may include compressed blocks of recycled wood in the corners).319 Though there are targets for the recycling of wooden packaging in the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (25% by 2025 and 30% by 2030), wood tends to be downcycled for use as feedstock for the panel board industry, animal bedding, surfacing (e.g. equestrian, play areas, landscaping) and biomass fuel. Further investigation with pallet manufacturers is required to understand the desire and feasibility to make wooden pallets from recycled content (it may not be feasible from a strength / durability perspective).“
“Measure 8c: Mandatory high level targets to increase the reuse and refill of packaging by 2030/2040 in selected sectors +M10a+M10b+M10c+M19 This measure is identical with M8b, but with higher targets for the selected packaging types (see table 3).
- In the field of packaging, transfers of turnover will take place and will benefit retaillers or consumers. Less packaging means lower prices. This remains to be demonstrated. 20 billion in transfers between producers and consumers. This goes unnoticed for the time being:
“The mandatory reuse targets see a significant transfer of revenue from single use packaging producers to multi-use packaging producers. This is net reduction in packaging requirements is passed through as a cost reduction to retailers. The costs associated with production and the logistics of reusable packaging are met by the retailers, but as this is lower than the cost savings, there is a net financial benefit to consumers. This diagram also applies to 8c, but with higher costs due to the higher targets.“
- The financial impacts have been modelled and are therefore available to the industry concerned:
“The financial impacts were modelled across the packaging lifecycle as follows:
“For reuse, five schemes were considered and a methodology was designed to estimate the annualised capital and operational costs of reuse schemes, with cost assumptions derived on a per use basis. The model takes into account that there is a wide variety of reuse schemes that could contribute to achieving reuse targets. These range from large national or transnational schemes (such as DRS), to markets where a multitude of privately run schemes exist to reuse, for example, transport packaging such as pallets.”
- Ambitious reuse targets for tertiary packaging as these are already the most concerned by reuse, particularly pallets and trays:
“The tertiary sector remains the strongest in terms of reuse practices. The use of reusable transport packaging has remained relatively stable, although there are some material and sector-specific challenges, which contribute to a mixed picture. Some reusable packaging such as crates, kegs, drums and pallets show an increase in use while others show a decline. There is an ongoing shift from corrugated single-use packaging towards reusable plastic RTPs (Returnable Transport Packaging), such as pallets and crates for fresh products including eggs, fruit and vegetables, meat and fish.91 The consumption of reusable wooden pallets has also risen in the past decade, but the reuse/reconditioning of steel drums has fallen. This is partly due to switches to plastic drums and Intermediate Bulk Containers (IBCs).”
- The EU commission is very optimistic or in favour of plastic (high number of rotations) at 5 rotations per year this corresponds to a 40 year life span:
“On the contrary, reuse ensures that a material’s value is maintained and used in the economy for as long as possible and that less waste is generated on the whole. For instance, in some countries, refillable glass bottles are reused up to 50 times, whilst reusable plastic pallets and crates with a life-span of 10-15 years can be used up to 200 times.”
- The Directive advocates the need to harmonise in order to avoid commercial competition between countries:
“The application and interpretation of waste, reuse and preparing for reuse varies across Member States and regions, leading to discrepancies in how re-usable packaging, especially transport packaging, is legally treated. This challenge is particularly pertinent to open-loop packaging systems. In schemes of this type, after the reusable packaging (e.g. a steel drum) is used, it is collected for reuse. However, the original seller of the reusable packaging may be different from the reconditioner – the material is transferred from one actor to another. This is different from closed-loop reuse in which the reusable packaging is owned by one company, such as pallet pooling company, who provides the reusable packaging, collects it again after use and washes/refurbishes the packaging to be used again. In the open-loop system, due to the transfer of material between actors, some national jurisdictions have used the waste definition to classify such packaging as waste (even though it is subsequently reused, though this could be consistent if preparation for reuse occurred).170,171 The resulting administrative burden and additional costs, such as from applying and re-applying for multiple waste licences, dissuades companies from reconditioning the transport packaging, often scrapping it instead.”
- They are at least aligned on the need for harmonised taxation:
“M23 Harmonisation of EPR fee modulation criteria in an implementing act:
A broad consensus was expressed on the usefulness of harmonising EPR fee modulation criteria in an implementing act (Measure 23), with the exception of the pharmaceutical industry that fears being penalised.
Regarding Items 1 and 2, the main barrier to the wider uptake of returnable/reusable transit packaging (RTPs) is the feasibility and cost of tracking and reverse logistics, with losses of RTPs (theft and misplacing) being a significant issue as well as the transport impacts of returning bulky transit packaging. These issues can be dealt with effectively using ‘pooling’ to avoid the need for back-haul (as already done with pallets and pallet systems for example), collapsible systems to simplify return where that is necessary, and RFID chips and digital systems to aid tracking and charging for lost units. RTPs, however, can be logistically challenging to use where a) distributing items outside of continental Europe and b) where multiple companies, including third party hauliers working for multiple producers and retailers, are involved.“
- The legal issue of ownership of reusable packaging has been addressed but not yet resolved. It is difficult to promote a policy without empowering the actors involved:
“Industry representatives from the reusable transport packaging industry were highly in favour of standardisation of re-use systems in the tertiary packaging sector, as this would provide businesses with legal certainty and confidence in investing in these systems. The issue of how legal ownership of reusable packaging could be asserted was explicitly cited, as this has been a problem for some packaging formats such as pallets.
- Pooling and reuse are well placed. But it seems that B2B should be read instead of B2C. 100% is a bit high because you have to at least count the losses:
“Measure 8e. Mandate re-use of some tertiary packaging As a standalone measure, given how well-developed re-use systems are in some areas of returnable transport packaging, 100% targets are proposed for selected groups of tertiary packaging such as B2C packaging for large white goods: crates, pallets, kegs and drums.“
- A new body for the promotion of reusable packaging could be created. Its composition remains to be specified:
“Measure 11: Business advisory body for reusable products and packaging This measure consists in the implementation of an advisory body for reusable packaging systems, operating at EU or Member State level. The advisory body could be mandated to further the development and optimisation of re-use systems, and their adoption by industry and consumers. Their role could include:
- Monitoring or collating evidence on re-use levels (“Observatory” role)
- Primary research and evaluation of the cost and performance of different reusable packaging systems
- Supporting the creation of standards for reusable packaging systems
- Offering advice and guidance to producers on the implementation of reusable packaging systems
- Provide strategic direction to support meeting of the re-use and refill targets (e.g. defining pathways and milestones, whether operational or outcomes based)
- Engage industry and consumer stakeholder groups“
- Taxes have been planned for all packaging but the most virtuous (reusable) should benefit from discounts but still be taxed:
“Reusable packaging should not be exempt from end-of-life waste management fees as they still incur these. In absolute terms however there are less fees to pay because this is only charged the first time the packaging is placed on the market. • Reusable packaging should be subject to the same recyclability related modulated fees. This will also be ameliorated by the measure under consideration that ‘all reusable packaging should be recyclable’ (Measure 21).”
- And even if packaging intended for reuse can be identified from the moment it is placed on the market, it should still be taxed:
“Measure 14a. Updating the essential requirements to better align with the waste hierarchy: It was determined that the Essential Requirements, by their very nature a set of conditions according to which packaging may or may not be placed on the market, cannot drive re-use because when packaging is placed on the market, it is not possible to know whether the product sold in it could feasibly be sold in an item of reusable packaging, as this is for many items, dependent on the existing systems. And where the systems do not exist, the use of reusable packaging can simply be deemed not possible.”
- But the administrative part will be simplified. You can’t write a book on a pallet. There is also talk of an exemption from the EPR fees:
“Measure 14c. Reusable packaging exempt from licensing obligations/EPR fees This measure was discarded as it is inconsistent to exempt packaging, as it still needs to be disposed of at end of life. As stated above, the benefit comes from the fee for reusable packaging only being applied once, the first time it is placed on the market.”
- Wood does not emit a lot of C02 in the end:
“This shows that plastic packaging is the most carbon intensive, at a total of 1.8 tonnes of CO2 emitted for the lifecycle of one tonne of plastic packaging placed on the market in 2018. This reduces to 1.5 tonnes by 2030, due to greater avoided emissions from recycling and a small reduction in manufacturing emissions per tonne due to the increase of recycled content in plastic beverage bottles to 30%, as stipulated in the SUP Directive. However, even with this increase in recycling rate (which is a greater relative upward shift in recycling rate than for other packaging types), plastic packaging is still more carbon intensive than other packaging types.”
“The next most carbon-intensive types of packaging are paper / board and glass, which have emissions of 809 and 565 kg CO2e per tonne packaging respectively. Wood packaging has very low net emissions – 19 kg CO2e per tonne packaging. This is due to avoided emissions from recycling and incineration. Net emissions from incineration of wood are negative (avoided) because energy is generated, thus offsetting generation from other sources on the grid and CO2 emissions from incineration of wood are biogenic carbon and therefore not counted (only fossil CO2 is in scope).”
- The British example of taxes per tonne. It can be very painful:
The Environment Agency (EA) has recently released data outlining the expenditure of revenue generated through PRN(PERN) sales throughout 2019 by accredited reprocessors and exporters. As per 2018, total revenue has increased again and this time by an even more substantial amount. The higher revenues are the result of record high average price levels for PRNs experienced across a number of different packaging materials (complydirect.com)
- The example of taxes in Italy per tonne placed on the market:
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