The producer responsibility pushes for a common global direction

The extended producer responsibility is not only a hot topic in Denmark and the EU, but “on the rise” in most of the world. This is clear from the annual conference on developments and trends in sustainability within the packaging-area, SUSTAINABILITY IN PACKAGING EUROPE, which has just taken place in Barcelona. VANA participated in the conference, and we have gathered 5 takeaways about the sustainable packaging of the future and the significant role of the Producer Responsibility Organisations (PROs) in this connection.

News 31 October 2023

SUSTAINABILITY IN PACKAGING EUROPE 2023 brings together the largest and most influential companies and people with an impact on the future development of packaging. This year's conference focused, among other things, on the opportunities and challenges which companies are expected to experience in the coming years with increasing legislative requirements both in the EU and on the global stage.


1) The extended producer responsibility for packaging goes from being national to being global
The extended producer responsibility for packaging (EPR-schemes for packaging) has already been implemented in large parts of the world, but in different ways. National schemes are based on the same principles, and the challenges experienced across the global stage are fundamentally the same: Different infrastructure, different waste management, education of consumers, lack of overview of differences across countries and continents, lack of standardisation of data points, etc. The trend shows that there is a need for harmonised rules across the EU, but it also apparent that the same is true on the global stage.

2) Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR) will have a global impact
PPWR (Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation) is the packaging regulation currently being negotiated in the EU, which means that we will have harmonised rules for the producer responsibility on packaging across the EU. PPWR is the focal point for virtually everything related to the life cycle of packaging in a circular economy, e.g., in terms of challenges with compliance with EU recycling targets, sorting and recycling technologies, waste infrastructure across borders, materials, design, etc. Therefore, there is a clear expectation that PPWR also will influence how the development on the global stage will be in the future in relation to the sustainable packaging of the future. The negotiations on PPWR are expected to be concluded in Q3 2024.

3) The data detail increases with the implementation of environmental graduated contributions in the EU
The general trend when implementing environmental graduated contributions in the EU, as required by the current EU directive (PPWD), is that the level of detail of the necessary data points increases. This means that if you put packaged products onto the market in several EU countries, it is necessary to know virtually all the data on your packaging to be sure to meet the different requirements that currently exist across the different EU countries.

4) Data collection and data management are considered to be the biggest challenge for the companies
The challenge arises because those responsible for packaging data (and thus producer responsible) are in many cases not the same people who have the data used for the reporting. In practice, this could mean that the packaging data must be retrieved from many different links in the value chain.

There are several platforms that can manage data for the producer responsible, so you can send data to the right recipient, e.g., the PRO or the authority register in the given country, where you are the producer responsible. Presently, there is a lack of digital solutions which can manage data collection the other way around in the value chain. This means that this process is still manual and therefor there is an urgent need for a common digital solution for this area, as well as a standardised data format on a global scale.

5) Sorting marking is considered essential to succeed with the change
No sorting and no recycling without the end user being involved! Therefore, it is “alpha and omega” that everyone, regardless of where in the value chain the point of contact is that we focus on “educating” the end user of the packaging. Everyone has a responsibility for ensuring that we succeed with the message that it is "easy" and possible to sort correctly. Here, sorting marking is mentioned as one of the key points to help the end user well on the way. And of course, it also matters that the packaging is designed so that it can easily be sorted for reutilisation. 

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