HomePackaging and MOCACircular economy, ABC EU package

Circular economy, ABC EU package

Food packaging - and more generally, objects and materials intended for contact with food - are at the heart of the EU Circular Economy Package. The ABC of the four new directives, below.

THEcircular economy it expresses an economic model where the residues deriving from production and consumption activities are reintegrated into the production cycle. In a logic of full regeneration of resources, in order to reduce human impact on the environment.

The European Union has taken action on various fronts in recent years to promote this economic model. Public funding in research, eco-design of goods, quality of secondary raw materials, reuse of waste water, waste prevention and recovery of those generated.

Circular economy package, the four new directives on waste

The 'circular economy package ' it includes four reforms, approved on 18.4.18 by the European Parliament (rapporteur Simona Bonafè, Socialists and Democrats Group). Which significantly affect the main EU waste legislation:

- Directive 2008/98 / EC (framework directive on waste),
- dir. 94/62 / EC (packaging and packaging waste),
- dir. 1999/31 / EC (landfills),

- directives 2003/53 (EC (end of life vehicles), 2006/66 / EC (batteries, accumulators and waste), 2012/19 / EU (WEEE, waste electrical and electronic equipment).

The four new directives were definitively approved, by the Council, on 22.5.18. They will have to be implemented by the Member States within 24 months following their entry into force.

Member States will have to adopt specific measures whose priorities relate to prevention, reuse and recycling, as alternatives to landfill and incineration. Ambitious measures as necessary to adapt waste legislation to the current and upcoming challenges of safeguarding the environment.

Packaging and other waste, the objectives set in the EU

Europe, thanks to the legislative reforms mentioned above, it is today at the forefront of waste regulation on a global level. Following are the objectives agreed by the Member States.

About packaging waste, the specific recycling targets are as follows:

Within the 2025 Within the 2030
All types of packaging 65% 70%
Plastic 50% 55%
Wood 25% 30%
Ferrous metals 70% 80%
Aluminum 50% 60%
Glass 70% 75%
Paper and cardboard 75% 85%


For municipal waste, recycling targets are set at 55% by 2025, 60% by 2030, 65% by 2035.

The criteria of calculation recycling quotas are also tightened in order to monitor more closely the progress actually made towards the circular economy model.

The new rules on separate collection they will expand the existing obligation to separate paper and cardboard, glass, metals and plastics. With the aim of improving the quality of secondary raw materials and promoting their reuse. Thus, they will have to be collected separately:

- hazardous household waste (by 2022),

- organic waste (2023),

- textiles (2025).

Prevention it is the key element of the new EU legislation, which defines among other things ambitious targets for food waste and marine litter. To help achieve the sustainable development goals set by the United Nations.


All waste suitable for reuse, recycling or other types of recovery, including those contained in municipal waste, should therefore not be accepted in landfills starting from 2030.

Packaging, the responsibilities of producers

The responsibility of producers it is extended, albeit gradually, to the phase in which the goods reach the final phase that leads to reuse or recycling (where possible, as an alternative to landfill). 

The manufacturer is so called to contribute to covering the costs of collection, transport and treatment of a series of waste, as well as the general costs of cleaning the coasts and seas. In particular, it refers to containers for food and drinks (rigid or flexible), glasses, filter cigarettes, sanitary napkins, wet wipes, balloons, plastic bags, fishing nets. 

Some products they will have to report on the packaging information about the negative effects of plastic waste, as occurs on cigarettes for human health: sanitary towels, wet wipes and balloons.

Luca Foltran and Dario Dongo

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Expert in packaging and materials intended to come into contact with food substances and related legislative changes. He manages the information site foodcontactmaterials.info on European and extra-European regulations in the field of materials intended for contact with food.

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Dario Dongo, lawyer and journalist, PhD in international food law, founder of WIISE (FARE - GIFT - Food Times) and Égalité.

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