The Evolution of the EU’s Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (PPWD)
Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (PPWD) Timeline

In past Packaging Regulation of the Month articles, we have covered an array of US-based emerging and established packaging regulations.

As our research articles have illustrated, packaging regulations at the state and federal level are extremely complex in their creation, implementation, evolution, etc. 

Now imagine undertaking the organization of a packaging directive that covers 27 nation states in a continent; this is the goal of the European Union’s (EU) Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (PPWD), also referred to as the PPWR. 

The EU’s PPWD (94/62/EC) acts as a set of regulations and guidelines covering packaging throughout its entire lifecycle—from design concept to end-of-life disposal.

The first draft was published December 20, 1994, but the directive has seen numerous revisions and additions since then. The timeline below illustrates the changes to 94/62/EC since its launch:

Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (PPWD) Timeline 

As packaging is a broad topic, you might be wondering—how exactly does the EU classify packaging? And what falls under the requirements of the PPWD? 

Directive 94/62/EC defines packaging as “products made of any materials of any nature to be used for containment, protection, handling, delivery and presentation of goods, from raw materials to processed goods, from the producer to the user or or the consumer.” 

All three EU governing bodies (EU Commission, EU Parliament, and EU Council) agree on this definition, however, they are negotiating the appropriate reuse, refill, and recycling targets for different packaging materials. According to Reloop, the three parties will meet in January 2024 to begin negotiations. 

For example, when it comes to minimum recycled content targets for 2030, the three governing bodies agree on targets for contact sensitive PET30% minimum recycled content.

However, when it comes to minimum recycled content targets for contact sensitive PET for 2040, the Commission and Council have a target of 65% whilst Parliament maintains the target of 30%. 

When it comes to reuse and refill targets for 2030 and 2040, there is even more variation in targets amongst the three EU governing bodies.

For example, for household appliance packaging reuse targets for 2030, the Commission, Parliament, and Council all have different proposed targets—90%, 50%, and 10% respectively

The directive also sets recycling target deadlines for different packaging materials for December 31, 2025 and December 31, 2030. For paper and cardboard, there is a 75% recycling target for the end of 2025 and an 85% recycling target by the end of 2030.

For plastic packaging, the targets are 50% by the end of 2025 and 55% by the end of 2030.

It is also essential to note the scope of the directive and its potential impact on the US and other international organizations that sell products and packaging in any of the 27 countries in the EU

For instance, if you have a US-based beverage company that sells products in contact sensitive PET bottles in Austria, Belgium, and Germany, you would have to comply with proposed targets for minimum recycled content, reuse and refill, and more in order to keep selling into EU markets. 

The legislative cycle of the European Union is far different than that of the United States—at both the federal and state level. The graphic below provided by the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) illustrates the current state of the PPWD starting with the Commission proposal in November 2022. 

image credit: MDart10 /

At this point, you might be wondering how you can prepare your company for packaging regulations and directives in other continents, like the PPWD, that still cover your operations based on their provisions.

Here at The Packaging School, we offer an array of online courses and certificate programs to help packaging professionals and organizations prepare for monumental changes in the industry and regulatory environment, like the EU’s PPWD. 

Check out these online micro-learning courses to ready your company for emerging packaging regulations:

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