Negotiations on the EU Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR) successfully concluded

Rethink Plastic, outlined several shortcomings of the proposal.

On Monday, March 4, 2024, the final negotiations on the Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR) were concluded. At the last plenary session, the proposed revision of the Waste Framework Directive was adopted with 514 votes in favor, 20 votes against and 91 abstentions. This matter will be further discussed by the new session of the Parliament after the elections in June.

Since November 2022, there have been intense negotiations on the PPWR regulation. Environmental protection associations have played a very important and constructive role in the negotiations. The Zero Waste Europe network had a significant advocacy role in the whole story, forwarding important information related to waste topics to its members.

What is the European Union doing for environmental preservation?

Excessive waste production creates environmental problems and endangers biodiversity. Local communities are also threatened by this issue. Packaging waste accounts for a large percentage of the total waste quantity. It is believed that the mass transition to food delivery, especially during the pandemic, has contributed to this. On average, in 2021, each European produced 188.7 kg of packaging waste, and by 2030. It is expected that this will increase to 209 kg.

For a number of years now, the EU has been striving to promote the implementation of the principles of the circular economy in all member states and in all areas of life through various policy measures. By introducing new regulations, directives, and laws for implementation at national levels, the EU ensures the fulfillment of the European Green Deal and thus environmental preservation. Last week, the European Parliament and the Council reached a landmark agreement to limit waste production with the aim of achieving sustainability and environmental protection.


Ambitious goals of the PPWR

According to the PPWR, stricter sustainability rules will be applied, specifically regarding the use of harmful substances. As of 2026, the use of PFAS substances, or “forever chemicals” known to persist in the environment and harm human health, will be banned. This amendment to the regulation opens the possibility of further imposing restrictions on toxic substances that negatively affect human health and pose barriers to recycling.

The regulation also introduces stricter rules on packaging reduction, specifically limiting the sizes of boxes for online purchases. This rule pertains to the ratio of empty space in packaging. Agreement has been reached for e-commerce, group packaging and transport packaging to have a ratio of 50%. On the other hand, seasonal products are exempt from this new rule.

A novelty of the regulation is that all member states will have to establish deposit return systems for recycling plastic bottles and metal cans by 2029. Existing deposit return systems will not have to be changed for now, but new systems will have to comply with the new criteria. Fifteen member states already have new return systems for packaging and it is expected that nine more countries will introduce them.

According to the new regulation, the hospitality sector will be obliged to accept packaging brought by customers for take-out food. From 2028, they will also have to offer take-out food in reusable packaging without any change in price or service quality.

Regarding recycling, the Regulation mandates that by 2030, 70% of packaging must be recyclable and by 2038, 80%. These percentages do not necessarily have to be applied per packaging unit but can be calculated as an average per production facility, per year. Additionally, manufacturers will have to include a minimum amount of recycled plastic material in their plastic packaging.

Shortcomings of the PPWR Regulation

By 2030, unnecessary single-use packaging will be banned across the EU, but only plastic ones. The ban will include plastic shrink wraps around grouped products and miniature hotel toiletry packaging. This also includes plastic shrink wraps around luggage at airports and polystyrene as packing material. On the other hand, the European Commission has proposed such ban for all materials, not just for plastic.

Limitations that apply only to plastic open the possibility of transitioning to composite packaging, which poses an even greater challenge for recycling. According to the new definition, composite packaging is packaging that contains more than 5% of another material. The 5% threshold represents a legal loophole, as it allows plastic not to be classified as plastic packaging if it contains more than 5% of another material.

What does this regulation mean for Sunce?

PPWR can indeed be considered a victory in terms of reducing waste generation, which increasingly suffocates the planet and threatens the environment. However, although ambitious, the regulation still needs refinement to truly fulfill its potential for environmental protection.


Sunce is determined in its stance that all steps need to be taken to protect the environment and reduce single-use packaging waste, especially plastic, by utilizing reusable solutions.

Special acts, international directives and conventions, such as the Barcelona Convention, EU Waste Directive, EU Directive on the Reduction of the Impact of Certain Plastic Products on the Environment, Waste Management Act, Environmental Protection Act, and others and now the Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation, are the foundation of Sunce’s advocacy and project efforts.

Sunce will continue its systematic and continuous advocacy for waste reduction and the protection of natural resources.

Let’s also mention the inadequate implementation of the Single-Use Plastics (SUP) Directive in Croatia. This directive lacks ambitious measures to incentivize citizens, public sector and businesses to phase out single-use plastic products. Sunce has repeatedly appealed to the City of Split and organizers of public events to recognize the importance of sustainability and transition to reusable solutions. You can read more about it here. We hope that Split will introduce reusable packaging at the next public event for the prosperity of all of us.