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With the recent appointment of Frédérique Ries MEP as rapporteur for the Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation revision, ACE sets clear industry asks for their sustainable packaging

The Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment, ACE, welcomes the appointment of Frédérique Ries MEP (Renew Europe, Belgium) as rapporteur for the Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR). While the beverage carton industry supports the European Commission’s vision that by 2030 all packaging should be recyclable and/or reusable – as demonstrated by the sector’s Roadmap to 2030 and Beyond – we consider the following additions to the draft legislation as essential to meet the goals of an ambitious PPWR revision and look forward to an open dialogue with our stakeholders in the EU institutions:

1. The need for a 90 % mandatory collection target
The first step to recycling is collection. The industry needs enabling conditions to ensure beverage cartons are recycled at scale by 2035. A mandatory collection target for packaging formats would provide predictable packaging waste flows that would incentivise investments in recycling infrastructure and technologies.

2. Exemption from reuse targets for microbiological sensitive products
Microbiological sensitive products that cannot maintain their qualities through the addition of preservatives (i.e. 2011 juice directive) need to be packed in aseptic packaging to maintain the hygiene and nutritional value of the product. This is especially important for products with a long shelf life. ACE believes mandatory reuse targets should exempt sensitive beverages with these specific needs.

3. Feasibility assessment of the recycled content targets for contact sensitive packaging The European Commission’s proposal defines recycled content targets for contact sensitive packaging of respectively 10 % and 50 % by 2030 and 2040. ACE members are keen to include recycled plastic in their cartons provided it is available on the market at an economically viable price and authorised for use in food contact applications. These two conditions are currently not met at scale. ACE expects that ambitious recycled content targets included in the PPWR will make market availability even more challenging, therefore, we encourage the European Commission to re-assess the availability of such recycled content prior to the enforcement of these targets.

To help mitigate the challenge of the availability of recycled content on the market, an equivalent should be established between biobased/renewable plastic content and recycled plastic content as sustainably sourced renewable materials are a low-carbon, circular and food safe solution.

4. Design for Recycling (DfR) Guidelines – need for sound, technical input by industry
DfR Guidelines are technical documents that need to be evidence-based, robust and take account of industry innovation. The beverage carton industry’s latest DfR Guidelines1 provide expert recommendations to optimise their recyclability. To ensure DfR Guidelines duly reflect in-depth technical knowledge and latest innovation, it is important to include experts from the industry and technical institutes in the development of the DfR Guidelines.

We call for The European Commission to mandate CEN (The European Committee for Standardisation) to develop the DfR Guidelines. As an alternative, the creation of a stakeholder/industry advisory body to help with the development of the delegated acts would be necessary.

Beverage cartons are a sustainable and essential packaging solution allowing the safe transport, storage and use of sensitive products such as milk, plant-based products and juice (beverage cartons pack ca. 75% of milk and 59% of juice in the EU2). Their composition and lightness allow easy transport and long shelf life. Beverage cartons have the lowest carbon footprint in their category of milk and juice as demonstrated by several LCA studies, including by NGOs.3

1 Beverage carton industry guidelines, 2022
2 Roland Berger: Impact assessment study of an EU-wide collection for recycling target of beverage cartons (2022); 2018 Liquid Fruit Market Report
3 Supporting evidence – Environmental performance of beverage cartons, Circular Analytics,; ZeroWaste Europe review-of-environmental-impact_en.pdf.pdf_v2.pdf?utm_source=POLITICO.EU&utm_campaign=edf8c1d17b- EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2022_10_24_02_44&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_10959edeb5-edf8c1d17b-190996081

You can learn more about the benefits of beverage cartons on ACE’s website.

EXTR:ACT – Driving Value for multimaterial recycling, the pan-European platform created by BillerudKorsnäs, Elopak, SIG Combibloc, Stora Enso and Tetra Pak, all members of the Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment (ACE), has announced the nomination of EXTR:ACT’s Managing Director, Michael Brandl.

Michael Brandl, a German national with a background in engineering, built his career in the dairy industry before joining FKN, the German beverage carton association in 2010. Michael intends to use his considerable knowledge of both the beverage carton industry and of German and European recycling infrastructures to meet the platform’s objectives.

“We strongly believe that Michael’s experience and expertise will drive EXTR:ACT increase the recycling of our packages, scale and boost value for recycling solutions, and secure our long-term sustainability” said Heike Schiffler, President of EXTR:ACT. “With this new initiative, we are confident we will be able to achieve a significant increase in collection and recycling rates by 2025 “.

EXTR:ACT, based in Frankfurt, will foster the recycling of beverage cartons, including the non-paper components such as polymers and aluminium. It reflects the industry’s commitment to the circular economy and complements ACE’s ongoing work. EXTR:ACT will also seek to work in partnership with stakeholders who have similar needs regarding the recycling of composite packaging.

About ACE:
ACE provides a European platform for beverage carton manufacturers and their paperboard suppliers to benchmark and profile cartons as renewable, recyclable and low carbon packaging solutions. Engaging with stakeholders and partners seeking high environmental stewardship, it contributes expertise to EU policy, legislation and standard‐setting.
ACE members include beverage carton producers Tetra Pak, SIG Combibloc and Elopak; they develop, manufacture and market systems for the packaging and distribution of food, and produce packaging material at 20 plants in Europe. Most of the paperboard used by ACE members in beverage cartons in Europe is produced by Stora Enso in Skoghall (Sweden) and Imatra (Finland), and BillerudKorsnäs in Gävle and Frövi (Sweden), who are also members of ACE.

The Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment (ACE), representing the European beverage carton industry, applauded the recent progress report on the European Forest Strategy.

Annick Carpentier, ACE Director General, acknowledged the strides forward highlighted in the progress report, and added: “We are pleased to see the European Commission’s emphasis on the role of sustainable forest management in achieving a sustainable economic growth, while protecting biodiversity. This is a priority we share.”

ACE members have long been committed to promoting sustainability in forest management. Beverage cartons they produce only use wood fibres that are fully traceable and sourced sustainably, allowing for biodiversity to restore. To move the value chain closer to achieving sound environmental management, the beverage carton industry sees the need to strengthen the link between sustainable forest management practices and life-cycle assessments (LCAs).

As proof of this commitment, ACE was pleased to facilitate a novel process gathering experts from different fields to discuss how LCA can better assess and safeguard biodiversity. Organised together with the UN Environment and the WWF in the surroundings of a sustainably managed Nordic forest, a workshop culminated in a concrete set of recommendations, ‘the Gimo Recommendations’, that help bridge the current gap between sustainable forest management and LCAs.

The three-pronged approach outlined in the recommendations demonstrates how it can actively contribute to the protection of life on land (SDG15). Commenting on the future needs, Carpentier added: “It is the responsibility of all of us to protect our ecosystems and for our industry enhancing sustainable forestry is a way to go. Sound LCAs have a potential to guide decisions across value chains and contribute to this objective.”