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Council misses opportunity to adopt strong recyclability criteria and unleash the full potential of highly recyclable materials

On 18 December 2023, the Council of the European Union reached a general approach to the Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR). Ever since the European Commission proposed the PPWR, Metal Packaging Europe (MPE) – the European association representing rigid metal packaging (steel and aluminium) – has supported its overarching goals of improving packaging recyclability and reusability.  

MPE takes note of today’s decision but regrets that Member States have not retained a more ambitious approach to packaging recyclability while recognising the complementarity of recycling and reuse targets for some highly recyclable packaging materials.  

We believe that more could have been done to make recyclability provisions effective. MPE is particularly concerned with the reduction of performance grades to just three categories and the omission of qualitative criteria for recyclability. 

Reuse is not always the best environmental option - especially in the case of highly recyclable single-use packaging like metal beverage cans. MPE regrets that Member States have not allowed the exemption of packaging with a separate collection rate above 90% or covered by a DRS from reuse targets.

Finally, with regards to DRS, MPE deplores the Council’s decision to lower the threshold for Member States to opt-out from establishing a DRS, which could hinder progress in sustainable packaging practices. 

Several ambiguities remain and numerous aspects require improvement for economic operators to appreciate a secure legal environment. “Looking ahead, MPE hopes that the European Parliament’s approach will be better reflected in the upcoming interinstitutional negotiations and that EU legislators will provide for stronger recyclability measures and more pragmatic reuse requirements”, concluded MPE’s CEO Krassimira Kazashka. 

MPE remains committed to engaging with decision-makers and hopes that these concerns will be taken into account in order for the PPWR to best achieve sustainable packaging and positively contribute to the EU's circular future. 


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