European Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation: 5 Things you Need to Know

Mar 4, 2024

What is EU packaging and packaging waste regulation?

What do the packaging waste regulations mean for your business, your customers, and the earth?

What we must do under the EU packaging and packaging waste regulations?

There are 5 things you might know for your business.

1, What is EU Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation?

The EU Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation, also known as PPWR, It is the EU rules on packaging and packaging waste, including design and waste management.

The objectives of the EU regulations on packaging and packaging waste are to address the environmental issues caused by increasing amounts of packaging waste and to eliminate obstacles to packaging waste recovery in the internal market due to different packaging design rules adopted by EU countries.

Despite the perceived success of these rules’ implementation, the quantity of packaging waste in the EU has not decreased but continues to increase. There is too much waste in our limited resources that is not being recycled back into the economy.

The European packaging and packaging waste regulations specify what kind of packaging can be placed on the EU market and outline measures for the management and prevention of packaging waste.

They mandate that all packaging placed on the EU market must meet specified basic requirements related to manufacturing, composition, and reusability or recyclability.

2, The Existing Situation of Packaging Waste

The diversity of packaging projects is quite extensive, ranging from cans, tubes, and boxes to films and bags.

In 2018, the packaging manufacturing industry generated a turnover of 355 billion euros in the European Union.

With the increasing use of the internet for remote sales of packaged goods, there has been a recent increase in the cross-border movement of packaging.

Waste Generation by Packaging Material

In 2021, the European Union generated 84.3 million tonnes of packaging waste, equivalent to 188.7 kilograms per capita, representing an increase of 11 kilograms per capita compared to 2020.

From 2010 to 2021, the per capita generation of packaging waste increased by 22.5%.

Paper and paperboard are the most common packaging waste materials, accounting for 40.3%, followed by plastic (19.0%), glass (18.5%), wood (17.1%), and metal (4.9%).

Packaging waste generated by packaging material EU 2021

The Development in the Quantity of Waste Generated, by Main Waste Materials

During the 11 years from 2010 to 2021, paper and paperboard were the primary packaging waste materials, accounting for 34 million tonnes of packaging waste in 2021. This waste stream has grown by 23.5% since 2010.

Plastic packaging reached a total of 16.1 million tonnes, becoming the second most significant packaging material (an increase of 29.9% compared to 2010).

Packaging waste generated by packaging material EU 2010–2021

The Evolution of the Volume of Total Packaging Waste Generated, Recovered and Recycled

Compared to the previous year, the per capita generation of packaging waste increased by 6.1% in 2021. Meanwhile, both recycled and recycled packaging waste increased by 6.0%.

Over the period from 2010 to 2021, there was a significant increase in per capita packaging waste generation, with an increase of 22.5%.

During this period, the quantity of recycled packaging waste increased at the same rate, growing by 22.5%, while the quantity of recycled packaging waste increased even more strongly, by 25.7%.

Packaging waste generated recovered and recycled EU 2010-2021

Packaging Waste Generation and Recycling

The total amount of packaging waste generated and recycled includes all packaging materials: glass, paper and paperboard, metals, plastics, wood, and others.

In 16 EU member states, each resident generates 150 kilograms or more of packaging waste.

Reportedly, Germany and Italy have the highest per capita recycled packaging waste volumes, with 160.6 kilograms and 160.4 kilograms respectively.

Packaging waste generated and recycled 2021

“Circular recycling” includes material recycling as well as other forms of circular recycling, such as organic recycling.

In 2021, apart from Hungary (52.4%), all member states achieved the target of 55% packaging waste recycling (based on 2020 data).

From 2025 onwards, the recycling target will increase to 65%. Eleven EU member states have already achieved this future target in 2021.

Recycling rate of packaging waste 2021

The recycling rate only includes material recycling and does not encompass other forms of recycling, i.e. only including materials recycled into plastic.

In 2021, apart from Malta (20.5%), all member states achieved the target of 22.5% recycled plastic packaging waste.

Recycling rate of plastic packaging waste 2021

3, What are the Timelines for the latest regulation?

Directive (EU) 2018/852 is the latest revision of Directive 94/62/EC that have approved, aimed at preventing the generation of packaging waste and promoting its reuse, recycling, and other forms of recovery, rather than final disposal, thereby facilitating the transition to a circular economy.

Most products require packaging at various stages of their product lifecycle.

In the current Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (PPWD – Directive 94/62/EC), the packaging is defined as “products made of any materials of any nature used to contain, protect, handle, deliver, and present goods, from raw materials to processed goods, from producer to user or consumer.”


By the end of 2024, EU member states are required to ensure the establishment of producer responsibility schemes for all packaging. The directive also sets specific targets for recycling, including:

By December 31, 2025, at least 65% of packaging waste must be recycled, calculated by weight. The recycling targets per material are:

  • 50% of plastic
  • 25% of wood
  • 70% of ferrous metals
  • 50% of aluminium
  • 70% of glass, and
  • 75% of paper and cardboard.

By December 31, 2030, at least 70% of packaging waste must be recycled by weight. This includes:

  • 55% of plastic
  • 30% of wood
  • 80% of ferrous metals
  • 60% of aluminium
  • 75% of glass and
  • 85% of paper and cardboard.
Item Current targets (%) By 2025 (%) By 2030 (%)
All packaging 55 65 70
Plastic 25 50 55
Wood 15 25 30
Ferrous metals 50 (incl. Al) 70 80
Aluminium 50 60
Glass 60 70 75
Paper and cardboard 60 75 85

New EU Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive

In November 2022, a new proposal was publicly discussed and analyzed as a formal legislative proposal by the co-legislators of the European Union (i.e., the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union). The final version of the text may be enacted as early as 2024.

If approved, the new regulation would mean that by 2030, all packaging in the EU market must be designed as recyclable. By 2035, you will need to demonstrate that your packaging is widely recycled.

As for the timeline of the Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR), it is already underway. We will start to see the implementation of the PPWR from 2025 onwards.

4, What Manufacturers Must Do on New Draft Regulation?

The overall objective of the draft new regulation is to reduce the negative environmental impact of packaging and packaging waste while improving the functioning of the internal market.

The proposal takes the form of a regulation rather than a directive, aiming to ensure that all member states fulfill their obligations in the same manner simultaneously.

Sustainability requirements

1, Recyclable Packaging

The proposal will require all packaging to be recyclable,

  • meaning designed for recycling (mandatory by January 1, 2030);
  • separately collected;
  • sorted into designated waste streams without compromising other waste recycling;
  • recycled, ensuring that the resulting secondary materials have sufficient quality to replace primary ones;
  • capable of being widely recycled (mandatory by January 1, 2035) (Article 6).
Type of packaging From 1 January 2030 From 1 January 2040
Contact sensitive packaging made from PET 30 % 50 %
Contact-sensitive packaging made from plastic materials other than PET (except single-use plastic beverage bottles) 10 % 50 %
Single-use plastic beverage bottles 30 % 65 %
Other packaging 35 % 65 %

2, Compostable Packaging

Within two years of the regulation coming into effect, some packaging items must be compostable under industrial control conditions in biowaste treatment facilities.

These include tea or coffee bags, single-use packaging for coffee or tea, sticky labels adhered to fruits and vegetables, and very lightweight plastic carrier bags.

3, Minimization Packaging

The regulation will also introduce requirements for packaging minimization, meaning packaging must be designed to minimize its weight and volume.

Packaging that does not need to meet any performance standards (such as product protection or hygiene and safety) and packaging solely intended to increase the perceived volume of the product (such as double walls or false bottoms) will be prohibited (with some exceptions).

Spaces filled with materials like shredded paper, bubble wrap, or polystyrene will be considered void spaces.

Labelling, Marking and Information Requirements

Starting 3.5 years after the proposed regulation comes into effect, packaging must be labeled with information about its material composition.

This obligation will apply to e-commerce packaging but not to transport packaging. Packaging accepted under deposit and return systems must also be labeled accordingly.

4 years after the proposed regulation comes into effect, packaging must bear labels indicating its reusability and provide digital data carriers (such as QR codes) with information on packaging reusability.

Starting from January 1, 2028, all waste containers used for collecting packaging waste must also be labeled to enable the separate collection of each specific material component of packaging waste.

Obligations on Economic Operators

Manufacturers must ensure that the design, manufacture, and labeling of packaging comply with the requirements.

Economic operators introducing reusable packaging onto the market must ensure that a system for reusing such packaging is in place.

Type of packaging From 1 January 2030 From 1 January 2040
Cold or hot beverages (filled into a container at the point of sale for takeaway) Share of beverages made available in reusable packaging or by enabling refill 20% Share of beverages made available in reusable packaging or enabling refill 80%
Take-away ready-prepared food (intended for immediate consumption with no need of any further preparation, and typically consumed from the receptacle) 10% 40%
Alcoholic beverages (beer, carbonated alcoholic beverages, fermented beverages other than wine, aromatized wine products and fruit wine, products based on the spirit drinks, wine, or other fermented beverages mixed with beverages, soda, cider, or juice) 10% 25%
Non-alcoholic beverages 10% 25%
Transport packaging(pallets, plastic crates, foldable plastic boxes, pails
and drums for conveyance or packaging)
30% 90%
…% …%

Plastic Carrier Bags

Member states must take measures to achieve a sustained reduction in the consumption of lightweight plastic shopping bags within their territory, so that by December 31, 2025, and thereafter, the annual consumption per person does not exceed 40 lightweight plastic shopping bags or an equivalent weight target.

Member states may exempt the obligation for very lightweight plastic carrier bags required for hygiene purposes or sales packaging used for loose food items to prevent food waste.

5, How can KDW help you?

Kinderway Packaging can assist you in preparing to comply with the new regulations. In addition to mono-material (recyclable) solutions, packaging using recycled materials, and biodegradable packaging solutions, our research and development team is working hard to develop more sustainable packaging solutions.

Our team can also help you evaluate the inclusion of food-grade recycled materials. We can provide advice on bio-based materials. Additionally, we can explore methods to reduce your packaging and use fewer materials.

Start With KDW

Please contact us for more info of the flexible packaing, our expert term will get in touch with you timely.

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