News & positions

POSITIONS 01 November 2018

Industry calls on EU negotiators to safeguard the Internal Market for packaging & packaged goods

The undersigned organisations represent interests in a wide range of packaging materials, including plastics, and sectors at different stages of the packaging value chain in Europe. Building on earlier joint statements, we remain committed to working with EU policymakers to ensure that the Directive on the reduction of the impact of certain plastic products on the environment (so-called Single-Use Plastics Directive) will deliver the intended environmental objectives in a harmonised and competitive EU Internal Market.

In this constructive spirit, and in view of the trilogues, we call on EU policy-makers to ensure the safeguard of the Internal Market for packaging and packaged products and avoid fragmentation, for the following reasons:

  • The Internal Market is the cornerstone of the EU’s global competitiveness and of advancing the Circular Economy objectives. Only by working together in a harmonised manner can we create sustainable market opportunities instead of market fragmentation caused by national restrictions. The undersigned organisations are therefore deeply concerned that the Council intends to introduce language under recitals 7 a (new) and 11, and article 2 paragraph 1 subparagraph 2 that would undermine the legal basis of the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (PPWD) 94/62/EC. The combined effect of these recent additions would be to make the Single Use Plastics (SUP) Directive a lex specialis compared with the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (PPWD) 94/62/EC and the Waste Framework Directive (WFD) 2008/98/EC. Hence the SUP Directive would prevail over the latter two in case of conflict, “in particular for certain of the definitions, restrictions on placing on the market, product requirements and marking requirements”. The intention by Council to give Member States the possibility to use market restrictions to achieve consumption reduction for items that are considered packaging (e.g. food containers) is a source of concern for the co-signatories. Since the vast majority of goods circulating within the Union are packaged in some way, divergent packaging restrictions across the EU would undermine the free movement of packaging and packaged goods.
  • We count on the European Parliament to defend its amendment 11 that recognises that SUP Directive is without prejudice to the provisions in the PPWD regarding single-use plastic packaging products
  • If Member States were to take unilateral measures on packaging, their ability to import/export packaged goods across the internal borders of the EU will correspondingly be limited. This would have a chilling effect on investment, innovation – including eco-innovation – for circularity, growth and jobs in Europe. It would also impact consumers in terms of both price and product choice, especially if production were to stop for smaller Member States which have introduced unilateral packaging measures. Such a loss in critical mass for production would also run contrary to the ambition for a Circular Economy on an EU scale.

While for light weight plastic carrier bags (Directive 2015/720), Member States can derogate from Article 18 of the PPWD in order to restrict the placing on the market of these bags, further derogations from Article 18 of the PPWD for packaging materials could have a much more harmful effect on the Internal Market given the very wide variety of products targeted in the SUP Directive: unlike restrictions on carrier bags, product packaging restrictions impact the free movement of packaged goods. Any further regulation of packaging materials that are not harmonised and go beyond the Commission proposal should be addressed in a harmonised way in the context of the forthcoming review of the PPWD, which sets EU-wide standards, including the Essential Requirements that all packaging must meet.

We urge the EU institutions to:

  • Ensure that the PPWD (Directive 94/62/EC) remains the lex specialis for all packaging items as defined by Article 3(1) of Directive 94/62/EC;
  • Ensure that measures adopted under Article 4 (SUP Directive) are without prejudice to Article 18 of Directive 94/62/EC and that Member States shall pre-notify the Commission of their measures in accordance with Directive 2015/1535;
  • Remove the reference in Recital 11 to market restrictions in relation to the measures on consumption reduction related to SUP Article 4.