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Revision of European Directives: Packaging Changes In The Hands On The European Parliament

Last week, the European Parliament voted in favour of the revision of the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive. E-commerce is gearing up to respond and looking for ways to tackle the packaging economy. Under the revision, all packaging will have to be reusable or recyclable by 2030.

Revision of European Directives: Packaging Changes In The Hands On The European Parliament
Source: Depositphotos

Packaging is a growing source of waste. Most goods require packaging at several stages of the product life cycle. In 2009, the EU generated 66 million tonnes of packaging. 12 years later, in 2021, the figure will have risen to 84 million tonnes. Each European will generate 188.7 kg of packaging waste in 2021. Without further action, this figure is expected to rise to 209 kg by 2030.

MEPs want to ban the sale of very light plastic bags (less than 15 microns). An exception would be made for products that require them for hygiene reasons or when used as primary packaging for bulk food.

Returned packaging has its critics

By 2030, 10% of all shipments should be sent in a closed system. This means that packaging will have to be reused. Consumers will also have to return packaging if they keep all the products in the order.

The revision has been criticised by several parties, as the EU has not yet set uniform logistics standards across Europe.

Among the critics is the German e-commerce association Bundesverband E-commerce und Versandhandel (Bevh), which said in a statement: “In the absence of uniform solutions for reusable packaging in the European Union, we consider the return of reusable packaging to be problematic, especially in cross-border e-commerce.

Unless reusable packaging is guaranteed to be accepted by all service providers within the EU, we believe it is unacceptable for empty packaging to be sent across Europe on a permanent basis in cross-border trade. Returns will also occur if the customer keeps the goods,” says Christoph Wenk-Fischer, CEO of Bevh.

Source: Depositphotos

The solution to this problem could be to involve logistics service providers or postal companies. In this case, consumers could return the reusable packaging to the delivery person at the door. However, according to Bevh, there are currently no standardised logistics processes that would make this return process as easy as possible.

Changes on the horizon

It is not yet clear how and when the review will take place. The European Parliament has voted in favour of the changes but has yet to negotiate with the European Council. The European Council has not yet adopted the Parliament’s position on the revision.

Both online retailers and logistics companies have taken note of the changes announced earlier this year and have implemented some of the changes. For example, Amazon has started using recyclable packaging in Europe and eliminated double packaging, and Packeta has developed its own reusable packaging.

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