Packaging Recyclable Labels
European policy makers have taken steps to reduce packaging wastes and reuse or recycle these materials. Packaging wastes are defined as any material that is used to contain, protect, handle, deliver and present goods. They represent about 17% of the municipal waste stream in Europe. This fact sheet is not comprehensive; rather, it provides a starting point for readers interested in investigating the topic.
Background: Development of Packaging Directives
Summary of 1994 Packaging Directive
The European Community first introduced measures on the management of packaging waste in the early 1980’s. Background on the topic provided in this fact sheet begins with the 1994 Directive on Packaging and Packaging Waste (94/62/EC). This directive harmonized actions taken by EU nations to promote reuse and recycling and to manage packaging and packaging wastes. The 1994 Packaging Directive focuses on prevention, reuse, recycling, and other forms of recovery, and also establishes the rudiments of extended producer responsibility principles. These principles require manufacturers to play a role in mitigating the post-consumer environmental impacts of products from which they profit.
The 1994 Directive replaces Directive 85/339/EEC on the packaging of liquid beverage containers. The 1994 Directive also covers all packaging placed on the market in the European Community and all packaging waste, regardless of the material used. The Directive:
- provides that the member states take measures, including formation of national programs to encourage packaging reuse to prevent the formation of packaging waste
- reduces heavy metals content in packaging
- requires that countries introduce systems to return and/or collect used packaging;
- establishes recycling targets and a process for adjusting these goals;
- requires that countries promote information campaigns, aimed at the general public and economic operators, to promote recycling; and
- requires that countries develop harmonized data bases on packaging and packaging waste, to monitor implementation of the Directive.