1. Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive 94/62/EC
a. Recycling and Recovery Targets
The current EU targets for recovery and recycling of packaging waste were established in the 2004 revision of Directive 94/62 with a December 2008 date for their achievement. According to published EU Commission data these targets were largely reached or surpassed by most of the EU-15 in 2007. Countries which joined the EU in the ‘05 and ‘07 enlargement have extended timelines.
The Commission has not announced any plans to raise these targets and has stated its preference instead for maintaining the present levels and placing attention on the further optimisation of recovery and recycling while the newer member states catch up. This does not prevent any member state from unilaterally setting higher targets.
In parallel the Commission has said that any revision should be delayed pending member state submission of their respective overall waste management plans mandated for end 2010 by the Waste Framework Directive and agreement on targets for waste prevention due in 2013.
b. Essential Requirements
Packaging has to comply with environmental legal requirements which address the main impacts(*1) :
• Packaging shall be so manufactured that the packaging volume and weight be limited to the minimum adequate amount to maintain the necessary level of safety, hygiene and acceptance for the packed product and for the consumer;
• Packaging shall be designed, produced and commercialised in such a way as to permit its reuse or recovery, including recycling, and to minimise its impact on the environment when packaging waste or residues from packaging waste management operations are disposed of; and
• Packaging shall be so manufactured that the presence of noxious and other hazardous substances and materials as constituents of the packaging material or of any of the packaging components is minimised with regard to their presence in emissions, ash or leachate when packaging or residues from management operations or packaging waste are incinerated or landfilled.
c. Heavy metals limit
Member States shall ensure that the sum of concentration levels of lead, cadmium, mercury and hexavalent chromium present in packaging or packaging components shall not exceed a certain amount, as laid down in article 11 of the Packaging Directive.
2. CEN Packaging Standards
The EU Commission mandated the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) to draw up a set of standards and reports which would be “useful for the application of the Directive”, and standards on packaging prevention, re-use, material recovery, energy recovery and organic recovery were adopted in 2000. Updated versions were adopted in 2004.
On 19 February 2005, the Commission published the references to the full set of standards in the Official Journals as recognition of their status as “harmonised standards”. This means that packaging which complies with the standards is deemed to be in conformity with the Essential Requirements. The use of the EU harmonised standards on packaging and environment also enable continuous environmental improvement.
3. ISO Packaging Standards
The development of ISO Standards on packaging and environment, in line with the CEN Standards, is currently ongoing. The work commenced in December 2009 and aims to be finalised mid 2012 (*2)
(*1): Directive 94/62/EC – Annex II (1): Essential requirements on the composition and the reusable and recoverable, including recyclable, nature of packaging.
(*2): For more information, please visit this following webpage.