German paper industry association warns that EU's plans for packaging regulation endangers desired ecological goals; giving reusable packaging 'blanket priority' counteracts circular economy, would push packaging made of paper, paperboard out of market

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February 21, 2023 (press release) –

The EU's plans for a packaging regulation endanger the desired ecological goals. The association DIE PAPIERINDUSTRIE warns of this. The paper industry and packaging manufacturers supported the European Commission's intention to minimize the environmental impact of packaging and packaging waste. "Giving reusable packaging a blanket priority, however, counteracts the idea of ​​​​the circular economy," explained the managing director of the association, Alexander von Reibnitz. “Ecologically advantageous packaging made of paper, cardboard and cardboard would be pushed out of the market and replaced by fossil-based packaging. In order to achieve the aim of the regulation, both must be treated equally.”

In the opinion of the paper industry, the ecological priority of reusable packaging has not been proven. In contrast to paper and cardboard packaging, which is based on renewable raw materials, the production of reusable packaging uses fossil resources. Reusable packaging inevitably leads to a high level of additional logistical effort. Avoidable empty runs are increasing, causing additional CO 2 emissions, tying up scarce logistics capacities and unnecessarily burdening traffic networks that are already strained.

If the planned reusable targets were to be implemented, a significant proportion of the recyclable paper and cardboard packaging would be replaced by plastic packaging. This would contradict the EU's action plan on the circular economy, according to which all packaging must be recyclable or reusable by 2030, i.e. there is equivalence between circular and reusable packaging.

Paper, cardboard and cardboard packaging can be fully recycled. They are characterized throughout the EU by an extremely high recycling rate of 82 percent. This rate is even exceeded in Germany at 89 percent. Around 60 percent of the total German paper production of 23.1 million tons per year is packaging paper. Their fibers can be recycled at least 25 times.

In a joint position paper , an alliance of paper industry associations has formulated its position on the EU packaging regulation. The 10-strong alliance includes DIE PAPIERINDUSTRIE, the VDW Association of the Corrugated Board Industry, the Folding Box Industry Association FFI, the VVK Solid Cardboard Association, the WPV Paper Processing Industry Association, the IPV Paper and Film Packaging Industry Association, ProCarton, the GemPSI Packsack Industry Association, PRO-S -PACK working group for service packaging and the specialist association for hard paper goods and round containers FHR.

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Jason Irving
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