A perfect storm building up from Brussels

You can easily say that, never before has so many EU-initiatives that concerns the packaging industry been active as right now.
Right now, we are looking at an intense mix of newly launched directives and updating of old ones, all with a direct impact on the packaging industry. Thereby also on the manufacturing industry in general and the food & beverage industry in particular.

You can speculate in why these initiatives are stacked so high at this moment, but it is right in time. Recycling, reusing and reducing packaging waste are the new normal and will not change in any other direction than, even more.  

What we now see is an EU Commission pressing all buttons to quickly change the present situation and reach the rather ambitious goals. Goals that yesterday was increased to a 55% reduction of GHG by 2030. That is compared to the previous goal of 50%.

You could argue that 50-55% are within the margin of error but this demands a huge effort of the entire society of which the packaging industry is a part.

It is also this ambition that in the end, by 2050, to become a completely climate neutral continent that is the reason for the storm of initiatives initiated that involves the packaging industry. And their customers, the brand owners and fillers.

The European Green Deal” is a major flag ship project launched last year. It contains a very ambitious set of policy initiatives regarding clean energy, toxic free environment and much more. In this bundle are two components that will have a significant impact on packaging.

Part of this initiative is “The Farm to Fork Strategy” which is much about food and beverages but contains parts that will affect packaging. You could summarise the goal to be “Sustainable food in sustainable packaging”.

The “Circular Economy Action Plan” is also a part of this huge initiative. A part where packaging is specifically named as a focus area. Key words are sustainability, reduced packaging and circularity.

These are new and you can say that about “The Single Use Plastic Directive” as well. This directive has from the introduction last year been hurried through the system and will be a reality next year. This with huge consequences for all involved when the use of plastic is limited and phased out with rules and fees.

Those were the new ones, then we have a few very well-established building blocks that are considered to need an update.

The Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive” was introduced quite some time ago and has been updated every 10 years. Now it is time again, after only 5 years… This is an important part of the free movement of goods within the union and is much about promoting reuse and recovery.

Finally, it is time for a refreshing of “The Waste Framework Directive” which has been with us for a long time but is now due for an update. This is basically about the Extended Producer Responsibility and the Packaging Fees to finance the collection and processing of packaging waste.

This is together quite a lot and something of a perfect storm where separate forces are pulling in the same direction which promises real results. This is happening right here, right now and will have consequences within a period of 2-5 years. The result can be influenced but only now, before the train leaves the station.

It is now we have the chance to let the decision makers hear our voice in this. The Commission is welcoming input that we as an industry probably most efficiently can give them through our organisations. It is so important that we do this, a number of very important decisions are going to be made within short and it is crucial that these decisions are made on the basis of facts and science rather than on intuition and short-term gains. So, let them hear how things are, actually.