The EU Essential Requirements for Packaging and Packaging Waste: Effectiveness and Proposals for Reinforcement

The Essential Requirements (ERs) are part of the EU Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive, the key legislation on packaging and packaging waste in Europe. Their main elements are a reduction of packaging waste and the establishment of design requirements for packaging materials and packaged goods. Introduced during the first iteration of the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive in 1994, the ERs have since remained unchanged and now require an update. Among other subjects, the concept of circular economy, secondary materials and product transparency will take centre stage when revising the document, as well as the end-of-life phase of products and materials to increase effectiveness and efficiency of EPR schemes.

The project consortium (COWI, adelphi, Ecofys, eunomia, Fraunhofer ISI and mileu) conducted an impact assessment support study to provide input to the Commission's review of the ERs. The review itself will feed into broader policy-making, potentially leading to a legislative proposal for reinforcing the ERs. With the help of various data sources, the current baseline situation of packaging products in the European Union was identified and the likely impacts of policy options concerning the different packaging types and materials were explored. The consortium consulted official statistics, reports and studies as well as stakeholder views.

Making use of adelphi’s long-standing experience relating to circular economy and EPR systems, the adelphi team supported the project by conducting interviews with a range of key stakeholders. The insights gathered there played a crucial role in the impact assessment process.