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Packaging and packaging waste

The European Union is seeking to harmonise national measures concerning the management of packaging and packaging waste to provide a high level of environmental protection and ensure the functioning of the internal market.

ACT

European Parliament and Council Directive 94/62/EC of 20 December 1994 on packaging and packaging waste [See amending act(s)].

SUMMARY

This Directive provides for measures aimed at limiting the production of packaging waste and promoting recycling, re-use and other forms of waste recovery. Their final disposal should be considered as a last resort solution.

Scope

This Directive covers all packaging placed on the European market and all packaging waste, whether it is used or released at industrial, commercial, office, shop, service, household or any other level, regardless of the material used.

Measures

Member States should take measures to prevent the formation of packaging waste, and to develop packaging reuse systems reducing their impact on the environment.

The Member States must introduce systems for the return and/or collection of used packaging to attain the following targets:

  • by no later than 30 June 2001, between 50 and 65 % by weight of packaging waste to be recovered or incinerated at waste incineration plants with energy recovery;
  • by no later than 31 December 2008, at least 60 % by weight of packaging waste to be recovered or incinerated at waste incineration plants with energy recovery;
  • by no later than 30 June 2001, between 25 and 45 % by weight of the totality of packaging materials contained in packaging waste to be recycled (with a minimum of 15 % by weight for each packaging material);
  • by no later than 31 December 2008, between 55 and 80 % by weight of packaging waste to be recycled;
  • no later than 31 December 2008 the following targets for materials contained in packaging waste must be attained:
    1. 60 % for glass, paper and board;
    2. 50 % for metals;
    3. 22.5 % for plastics and;
    4. 15 % for wood.

The incineration of waste at plants with energy recovery is regarded as contributing to the realisation of these objectives.

Greece, Ireland and Portugal, because of the large number of small islands, the presence of rural and mountain areas and the low level of packaging consumption respectively, will not be bound by the targets until 2011.

Marking and identification system

The packaging shall indicate the nature of the materials used for the packaging in order to facilitate identification and classification. The marking must be attached to the actual packaging or on its label. It must be clearly visible and legible.

Essential requirements

Packaging must meet certain requirements. For this reason, the Commission encourages the development of European standards.

Member States must ensure that packaging placed on the market complies with the essential requirements of Annex II:

  • to limit the weight and volume of packaging to a minimum in order meet the required level of safety, hygiene and acceptability for consumers;
  • to reduce the content of hazardous substances and materials in the packaging material and its components;
  • to design reusable or recoverable packaging.

Information systems

Member States should develop information systems (databases) on packaging and packaging waste so that realisation of the targets of this Directive can be monitored. The data they hold must be sent to the Commission in the formats laid down in Annex III.

Derogations

Directive 2005/20/EC sets a later deadline for the 10 new Member States (the Czech Republic, Estonia, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia) to meet the targets of this packaging directive. These derogations are valid until 2015. Romania and Bulgaria have also been granted specific derogations, defined in their respective Treaties of Accession.

ActDate of entry into forceFinal date for implementation in the Member StatesOfficial Journal

Directive 94/62/EC

31.12.1994

30.6.1996

OJ L 365, 31.12.1994

Amending Act(s)Date of entry into forceImplementation in the Member StatesOfficial Journal

Directive 2004/12/EC

18.2.2004

18.8.2005

OJ L 47, 18.2.2004

Directive 2005/20/EC

5.4.2005

9.9.2006

OJ L 70, 16.3.2005

Regulation (EC) No 219/2009

20.4.2009

-

OJ L 87 of 31.3.2009

The successive amendments and corrections to Directive 94/62/EC have been incorporated in the basic text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.

RELATED ACTS

Harmonisation

Commission Decision 2005/270/EC of 22 March 2005 establishing the formats relating to the database system pursuant to European Parliament and Council Directive 94/62/EC on packaging and packaging waste [Official Journal L 86 of 5.4.2005].
The formats serve to harmonise the characteristics and presentation of data on packaging and packaging waste, making them compatible from one Member State to another. The data will be used to monitor attainment of the targets of Directive 94/62/EC. Data provision is only compulsory for the following packaging materials: glass, plastics, paper, board, wood and metals.

Decision 2001/524/EC relating to the publication of references for standards EN 13428:2000, EN 13429:2000, EN 13430:2000, EN 13431:2000 and EN 13432:2000 in the Official Journal of the European Communities in connection with Directive 94/62/EC on packaging and packaging waste [Official Journal L 190 of 12.7.2001].

Derogations

Commission Decision 2001/171/EC of 19 February 2001 establishing the conditions for a derogation for glass packaging in relation to the heavy metal concentration levels established in Directive 94/62/EC on packaging and packaging waste [Official Journal L 62 of 2.3.2001].
Extended by Commission Decision 2006/340/EC [Official Journal L 125, 12.5.2006].

Commission Decision 2009/292/EC of 24 March 2009 establishing the conditions for a derogation for plastic crates and plastic pallets in relation to the heavy metal concentration levels established in Directive 94/62/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on packaging and packaging waste [Official Journal L 79 of 25.3.2009].

Identification systems

Commission Decision 97/129/EC of 28 January 1997 establishing the identification system for packaging materials pursuant to European Parliament and Council Directive 94/62/EC on packaging and packaging waste [Official Journal L 50 of 20.2.1997].
The Decision establishes the numbering and abbreviations on which the identification system is based, indicating the nature of the packaging material(s) used and specifying which materials are subject to the identification system.

Application of legislation

Commission Report of November 2009 on the implementation of Community legislation on waste, particularly Directive 2006/12/EC on waste, Directive 91/689/EEC on hazardous waste, Directive 75/439/EEC on waste oils, Directive 86/278/EEC on sewage sludge, Directive 94/62/EC on packaging and packaging waste, Directive 1999/31/EC on the landfill of waste and Directive 2002/96/EC on waste electrical and electronic equipment for the period 2004-2006 [COM(2009) 633 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
The Directive was duly transposed by all Member States and the level of enforcement is satisfactory overall. No infringement proceedings were initiated in 2009.
The Directive allowed stable recycling and recovery rates to be reached for packaging waste, which had positive effects on the environment. During the reference period 2004-2006, the amount of packaging waste generated increased (part of this increase was due to the enlargement of the EU in 2004), whilst recycling and recovery rates remained stable. The practical application of essential requirements was however called into question by some stakeholders, which moved the Commission to undertake a further examination of the situation.
With regard to the effects of the Directive on the internal market, legal discussions have taken place in recent years between the Commission and Member States concerning compatibility with the rules of the internal market of national measures aimed at reducing the environmental impact of beverage packaging and the volume of waste it generates. In order to avoid other problems in the internal market and to reduce the number of legal discussions with Member States, the Commission adopted a Communication entitled “Beverage packaging, deposit systems and free movement of goods”, which summarises the solutions that have been identified and developed to date.

Last updated: 08.09.2011
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