A broad coalition representing European beverage producers, material and technology suppliers, recyclers, NGOs and public entities have called for ambitious action to enable full circularity of beverage packaging1 in the anticipated draft amendment of the EU Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (PPWD), due at the end of November 2022.
The coalition believes that the upcoming revision of the EU PPWD is a real opportunity to take the right measures and accelerate the transition to circular beverage packaging.
For this reason, in their position paper2, the coalition highlights the importance of setting a 90 % separate collection for recycling target by 2029 for beverage packaging. This is to ensure higher recycling rates and recycled content in packaging, which in turn will significantly reduce the demand for virgin resources in a meaningful way.
Under a 90% target scenario3, the EU would recycle an additional equivalent of 92 billion PET bottles by 2030. This would mean that 2.6 million tonnes less virgin PET would be needed by the bottle industry from 2022 to 2030.
The coalition also considers that it is key to adopt well-designed deposit return systems (DRS) in Member States whose collection performance fails to meet interim milestones needed to attain the 90 % target. To do it effectively, it is essential to develop minimum requirements for any new DRS to maximise their efficiency. DRS has already proven to be an efficient collection system in several European countries by ensuring high collection rates of high-quality material for recycling. This is a fundamental condition to promote closed-loop recycling and deliver circular beverage packaging.
“This proposal, which includes a 90 % separate collection target plus the promotion of well-designed national deposit return systems, is not just about waste reduction and circularity, it is also about stimulating local economies, creating jobs, and increasing Europe’s resilience by securing resources and saving energy,” says Clarissa Morawski, Chief Executive of Reloop.
Reloop’s model calculates that achieving a 90 % collection target would make an additional 170 billion beverage containers available for recycling between 2022 and 2030. The non-alcoholic beverage industry supports this potential significant step forwards:
For Nicholas Hodac, Director General of UNESDA Soft Drinks Europe, this proposal points the way forward for reaching beverage packaging circularity: “This is a real opportunity to achieve closed-loop recycling and, therefore, we look forward to seeing the European Commission accommodating this proposal. Our sector could not be more committed to increasing the collection and recycling rates of our packaging to make it fully circular, but we need supportive measures to do it successfully.”
Patricia Fosselard, Secretary General of Natural Mineral Waters Europe (NMWE), believes that beverage packaging is highly suited to achieve full circularity: “Beverage packaging is highly recyclable, can be reused over and over again in high value applications and already delivers the highest recycling rates. We are calling on the EU to further boost circularity by laying down minimum requirements for well-designed DRS and granting bottlers’ access to a fair quota of their recycled bottles.”
Wouter Lox, Secretary General of the European Fruit Juice Association (AIJN), agrees that it is high time to move circularity forward: “Reducing packaging waste presents a huge opportunity for circularity within the EU, and as such, it is critical to get the PPWD revision right. The European fruit juice industry, therefore, fully supports the ambition of setting a 90 % separate collection for recycling target by 2029 for beverage container packaging.”
The European Commission has a perfect opportunity to drive the transition to a circular economy with a 90 % separate collection target and well-designed DRS for beverage packaging.
1The coalition agrees that circular beverage packaging is packaging (single use or refillable) that is collected separately at a high rate, refilled or recycled multiple times in a closed loop. When recycled, it should contain a high percentage of recycled material, originating from beverage packaging, thereby contributing to material resource efficiency and waste prevention.
2Coalition Position Paper
3Target 90 Report