What should you know about the proposed EU packaging directive?

Are you aware of the latest developments in packaging regulations in the European Union?

The European commission has proposed an EU Packaging Regulation, also known as the EU Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (or PPWD). This will bring significant changes to how packaging waste is managed and recycled.

In this article, we will explore the key aspects of this directive and its implications for businesses. So, dive in and get informed!

What is the EU Packaging Directive?

The EU Packaging Waste Directive are the rules of the EU that regulate everything regarding packaging and packaging waste. This directive aims to minimize packaging waste by setting the requirements of packaging design, production and measures and prevents companies from overpackaging.

What is the directive 94/62/EC?

Currently the EU packaging and packaging waste is being regulated by Directive 94/62/EC that was put to place in 1994. Undoubtedly, the world has changed a lot  within the last 30 years and it’s high time to also review the packaging waste directive.

Packaging and shipping worldwide are responsible for 3% of greenhouse gasses globally. And considering the massive rise in e-commerce[1]  and overall consumption,  within a few decades, this could grow to  10-13% of all global emissions. Effective packaging can immensely benefit freight efficiency.

The new PPWD, currently in the form of a draft proposal, aims to replace the existing EU Packaging Waste Directive. Its primary objective is to address the pressing issues surrounding packaging waste and promote a circular economy. The intent of this directive is to reduce packaging waste by 15% per capita (compared to 2018), make all packaging recyclable by 2030, and introduce mandatory recycling targets.

What is the packaging and packaging waste regulation in 2023?

Actually, nothing has changed with the packaging regulations in the EU in 2023, so directive 94/62/EC is still in force. The latest changes were introduced in 2018, aiming to prevent the production of packaging waste and promoting the reuse and recycling of packaging.

However, some changes did happen in the UK market. In February 2023, the England Packaging Waste (Data Reporting) Regulations came into effect.

These regulations mandate that the producers of packaging in England must collect and report data on the quantity and nature of packaging they introduce to the market. This data plays a crucial role in determining the fees that these producers will be obligated to pay.

The impact of this development is significant, as it directly influences businesses operating within the UK packaging supply chain, encompassing importers, distributors, and online marketplaces.

What are the new rules of the EU for packaging?

Let’s list out the key changes and implications of the new packaging and packaging waste directive proposed by the European Commission.

  1. Recyclability Definition and Extended Producer Responsibility

The proposed directive includes a new definition of recyclability. The proposal would require that all packaging be recyclable, meaning designed for recycling, and distinguishing products that can be labeled as ‘recyclable’ by 1 January 2030. It also introduces modulated fees as part of the Extended Producer Responsibility scheme, which will hold producers accountable for the entire lifecycle of their packaging.

  1. Deposit Return Schemes and Reusable Packaging Targets

By January 1, 2029, the directive requires the establishment of Deposit Return Schemes for single-use plastic and aluminum beverage containers up to 3 liters. Additionally, reusable packaging targets are set to be introduced by 2030, encouraging a shift towards more sustainable packaging solutions.

  1. Expanded Bans on Single-Use Packaging

Furthermore, the proposed directive expands the list of banned materials for single-use packaging. This step aims to tackle the exploitation of non-recyclable packaging materials.

  1. Limits on Empty Space and Recycled Content

To optimize packaging efficiency, the directive sets a limit of 40% on empty space within packaging. This provision discourages the use of oversized packages filled with unnecessary materials. Furthermore, it mandates the inclusion of recycled content in new plastic packaging, ensuring a greater utilization of recycled materials.

  1. Standardized Symbols and QR Codes for Consumer Information

To facilitate recycling and promote consumer awareness, the directive emphasizes the use of standardized symbols on packaging to indicate reusability. Additionally, QR codes will be added to provide customers with product-specific packaging information and help them locate recycling collection points.

Preparing for Compliance with the EU packaging directive

Although it is still in the draft stage, businesses should already start preparing for its implementation, expected in late 2024. Here are some steps to consider:

  • Familiarize yourself with the directive. Take the time to understand the key provisions of the proposed EU Packaging Directive and its implications for your industry and business operations.
  • Engage with industry professionals and compliance schemes. Seek guidance from compliance schemes and industry professionals to gain insights into packaging and recycling improvements. Their expertise will help you navigate the changing landscape effectively.
  • Assess and enhance packaging sustainability. Establish sustainability metrics and survey your packaging suppliers to evaluate their adherence to the European Commission directive’s criteria. Engage with suppliers who demonstrate a proactive commitment to sustainable packaging solutions.
  • Explore design alternatives and product composition. Investigate design alternatives to prepare products and packaging for reuse or refill targets. Identify ways to enhance your packaging’s sustainability during the design stage. Additionally, develop a comprehensive understanding of your product’s composition and packaging data.
  • Seek ways to optimize your packaging. Look for the best tools and software to maximize your load capacity and optimize your packaging. For example, the 3DBinPacking software allows you to optimize your packing, stacking and shipping processes by calculating the right-sized box for your packing, optimizing how you pack your pallets and much more.


The proposed EU Packaging Directive represents a significant step towards a more sustainable and circular economy in the European Union. As a business, being proactive in understanding the directive’s requirements and preparing for compliance will not only ensure a smooth transition but also position you as an environmentally responsible company.

Check out 3D Bin Packing now to find the best option for optimizing your packing process!