.On November 20, the European Parliament plans on voting on the extension of the EU Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR), which includes a mandatory reusable portion for transport packaging. The aim is to reduce the negative impact of packaging on the environment by avoiding excessive packaging and using more reusable and recyclable materials.
More plastic, less sustainable corrugated board
But with the rigid quota of reusable solutions for certain transport packaging, the EU is missing these targets, explains Dr. Jan Klingele, CEO of the Klingele Paper & Packaging Group:
"We support the goals of the EU regulation and, as a future focused company, are already implementing many measures for an ever-improving eco-balance. However, general reusable quotas often do not lead to the best ecological result. In the case of the PPWR, the proposed reusable quotas even jeopardize the environmental targets set.
According to a study conducted by the Gesellschaft für Verpackungsmarktforschung (GVM)* in June 2023, instead of using less plastic, an additional 114 kilotons of reusable packaging would be produced annually. In addition, to set up the quota-based reusable system, another 285 kilotons of it will have to be purchased in the first year. Thus, in my opinion, we inevitably run the risk of releasing more plastic and microplastics into our environment.
Reusable packaging is also limited to certain standard formats, which lead to an increase in empty space in packaging and thus in supply chains. This leverages one of the strengths of the corrugated industry: producing custom-fit packaging whose paper fibers can be recycled over twenty-five times and then fully biodegraded. Combined with the additional transports for cleaning and returning reusable packaging, we will see even more truck traffic on the roads. According to the above-mentioned study, transport kilometers will increase by as much as 200 percent by 2040.
We are therefore opposed to rigid quotas and instead call for the preservation of functioning circular systems that have proven their worth."
Companies in the corrugated industry and beyond are affected
In addition to the damage to the environment and people's health, PPWR reusable quotas also have consequences for those companies that offer more flexible packaging made from sustainable materials. This is also how former EU Commissioner Günther Oettinger feels about the situation:
"My experience shows that EU legislation is particularly successful when it sets guidelines for the market, but the market can regulate itself within these rules. However, the planned reusable quotas in the current draft of the EU Packaging Regulation ensure that some companies - e.g. from the corrugated cardboard industry - will no longer be able to compete at all, despite having particularly sustainable products. In my view, that would be a cause for concern. As a result, the market would lose functioning circular systems with very high and further increasing recycling percentages. For numerous family businesses from Baden-Württemberg and beyond with thousands of employees, this would have negative consequences."