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SVI 16. February 2024 0 Comments

Brussels/Paris/Bad Homburg, 15.2.2024: Press release of the IK Industrievereinigung Kunststoffverpackungen e. V.

Special rules for plastic packaging not compatible with EU law.

A recently published legal opinion shows that the special rules for plastic packaging and exemptions for other packaging materials discussed as part of the planned EU packaging regulation (PPWR) would very likely not be compatible with EU law. Accordingly, provisions that, for example, only prohibit plastic packaging or require it to be reused or exclude fiber-based composite packaging from the recyclate use quotas are very likely to violate the principle of equal treatment because there are no objective reasons for such unequal treatment. The legal experts also criticize procedural violations because Parliament and the Council did not take all relevant factors into account in their proposals. In a joint appeal, the associations EuPC, IK and Elipso, which commissioned the report, are calling on the Member States and the European Parliament to remove the material-specific special rules in the ongoing trilogue negotiations in order to create legal and planning certainty for companies.
The expert opinion by the international law firm Dentons concludes that all of the special rules examined for plastic packaging and exemptions for other materials most likely violate the EU principle of equal treatment because they most likely discriminate against plastic packaging. Such discrimination against plastic packaging is counterproductive to the objectives of the PPWR because it is highly likely to lead to environmental misdirection by replacing light and easily recyclable plastic packaging with heavier and less recyclable packaging materials, which leads to an increase in the amount of packaging waste and greenhouse gas emissions.
“The Council and Parliament have so far ignored the existing scientific facts and findings on the benefits of plastic packaging in a climate-neutral circular economy,” criticizes Bernard Merkx, Director General of EuPC. “To make matters worse, the large number of plastic discriminations in the PPWR completely reverses the principle of material neutrality. The report shows the legislator clear limits here,” says Merkx.

The report shows, among other things, that the bans on plastic film for a 6-pack of bottles or plastic packaging for untreated fruit and vegetables are not compatible with EU law. “Banning only plastic packaging is contrary to the original objectives of the PPWR and the EU’s environmental principles. They would merely lead to a switch to disposable packaging made of other materials, e.g. paper and cardboard packaging, which is often less sustainable than plastic packaging,” criticizes Gaël Bouquet, Director General of the French plastics packaging association Elipso. Furthermore, the legislator had not examined any less burdensome measures.
“It is still not too late. We are calling on the Council and Parliament to remove the special rules for plastic packaging and exemptions for other packaging materials in the ongoing trilogue negotiations,” demands Dr. Martin Engelmann, Managing Director of the German IK Industrievereinigung Kunststoffverpackungen. “This is the only way to create the legal and planning security that companies need for the transformation to a circular economy,” says Engelmann.
Manufacturers of plastic packaging have long been calling for a return to standardized packaging regulations throughout the EU. If the legal uncertainty of the currently proposed text is not eliminated, an avalanche of European and national legal disputes would result, which would jeopardize the goal of a circular economy for packaging. For this reason, the three associations are calling on the European legislator to guarantee the legal certainty of the PPWR.

To the press release