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EU Packaging Regulation embraces biodegradable plastic solutions, but industry calls for balanced approach

26 March 2024

The new EU Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR) introduces vital measures aimed at reducing packaging waste, with a focus on supporting biodegradable plastic solutions.

Image courtesy of Symphony Environmental Technologies
Image courtesy of Symphony Environmental Technologies

The EU has recently agreed to a new Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR) nearly two years after its initial proposal, which aims to make recycling across the EU more uniform by changing directives.

Whilst there was previously a disagreement over whether to apply the new rules and regulations to imports, the European Recycling Industries Confederation (EuRIC) believes that this ‘marks a significant step forward’ in pursuit of environmental and industrial circularity for packaging. 

The PPWR has set specific goals for the reduction of packaging waste, including specific design requirements for recyclable packaging and the use of Post-Consumer Recycling (PCR) materials. First proposed in 2022, the regulation applies to EU-based companies as well as those importing packaging into the EU, and has already seen welcome from European recyclers despite some concern of backlash from producers outside the EU. 

However, Michael Laurier, CEO of Symphony Environmental Technologies, the specialist in biodegradable plastic technology, says: “It is important to recognise that the new regulation should not be used as an excuse to adopt paper-based packaging and shun plastic materials entirely. Many people will consider paper packaging to be the answer in response to the PPWR, but ultimately it is just another level of waste to manage as a threat to the environment.

Laurier believes more should be done to combat the packaging waste crisis with sustainable and biodegradable solutions, such as Symhony’s d2w masterbatch technology. This produces packaging at little or no extra cost and, according to Laurier, is much better than the plastic marketed as compostable.

“Technological developments have allowed biodegradable polymer manufacturing to advance to the point that it is recognised as a viable and sustainable method of packaging, but the market still has a long way to go before it fully matures.”

“It is clear that all stakeholders and high-ranking decision-makers are invested in achieving a more sustainable plastic packaging solution, and we stand ready to help them achieve a better ESG rating by making sure that all their plastic packaging will safely biodegrade if it gets into the open environment and cannot be taken to a composting or recycling facility."

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