North American Blueberry Council summarizes new EU plastic packaging rules
March 09 , 2023
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The North American Blueberry Council has shared with exporters the European Union’s new sustainability initiative, which once enacted will affect U.S. blueberry products sold in the bloc.
The EU Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (PPWD) is aimed at progressively reducing many forms of plastic packaging sold in the EU, including many plastics used in the agri-food sector.
The initiative may have implications in other export markets from the U.S. that choose to replicate the EU standards.
A summary of the key aspects of the EU PPWD is shared below:
- The EU Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (PPWD) aims to harmonize standards for plastic packaging reduction across the 27 EU member states. The directive includes new targets for reducing plastic packaging and waste by 2030 onward, and includes bans on the use and importation of certain single-use plastics, sets minimum recyclable content and includes requirements for recyclability.
- The regulation applies to most packaging and all packaging waste sold in the EU, regardless of material, with some limited exceptions. As a result, it is expected to have implications for U.S. blueberry exports to the EU.
- The PPWD is still in the draft phase and subject to internal EU review. When finalized, the PPWD will be a binding regulation that will apply to all EU member states and will enter force on a specific date that’s not yet specified.
Key Requirements of the PPWD
- Bans on Specific Packaging Formats:
- The PPWS proposes a ban on certain types of packaging such as single-use plastic packaging for less than 1.5 kg of fresh fruit. This includes nets, bags, trays, and containers.
- Product packaging used to avoid water loss or turgidity loss, microbiological hazards or physical shocks is exempt from this ban. However, this exemption is not clearly defined in the regulation.
- Packaging Minimization
- The PPWD proposes to minimize the weight and volume of packaging while maintaining the integrity of the packaging’s safety and functionality. Compliance with this requirement will need to be proven with technical documentation. Packaging can only be placed on the market when the producer is registered and if the packaging complies with the requirements of the PPWD.
- The PPWD will require manufacturers, importers and/or distributors that supply products to final distributors or end users in grouped, transport, or e-commerce packaging to ensure that the ratio of empty space in the packaging in relation to the packaged product is at a maximum of 40%.
- Minimum Recycled Content in Plastic Packaging & Compostability Requirements
- As of January 1, 2030, plastic packaging must contain minimum amounts of recycled content recovered from post-consumer plastic waste per unit of plastic packaging.
- Sticky labels attached to fresh fruit and vegetables should be fully compostable 24 months following the entry into force of the PPWD.
- Re-Use and Refill Targets for Beverage Bottles and Take-Away Ready-Prepared Foods
- The PPWD sets targets on re-use and refill for different sectors and packaging formats. This includes juice and juice drinks. By January 1, 2030, 10% of these products must be made available in reusable packaging within a system for reuse or by enabling refill. This will increase to 25% by January 1, 2040.
- Labeling Requirements
- Packaging must be marked with a label containing information on its material composition, its reusability, and a QR code or other type of digital data carrier that provides further information on packaging reusability.
- Reusable sales packaging shall be clearly identified and distinguished from single-use packaging at the point of sale.
- To establish all labeling specifications, the commission will adopt implementing acts 18 months after entry into force of the regulation.
- There is currently no date set for the implementation of these measures.
- The draft regulation and feedback received will be discussed and voted on in the European Parliament and Council.
- After approval by both legislative bodies, it will be published in the Official Journal of the European Union and shall enter into force 20 days after publication. It shall apply 12 months after entry into force.