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Packaging trade bodies call on EU to safeguard the Single Market in single-use plastic negotiations

The European Organization for Packaging and the Environment (EUROPEN) and 72 other associations representing a wide range of packaging materials and sectors across the packaging value chain call on the European Institutions to ensure that the free movement of packaging and packaged goods across the EU’s Single Market is not undermined by the Single-Use Plastics Directive (SUP), currently being negotiated in trilogues.

The European Organization for Packaging and the Environment (EUROPEN) and 72 other associations across the packaging value chain call on the European Institutions to ensure that the free movement of packaging and packaged goods across the EU’s Single Market is not undermined by the Single-Use Plastics (SUP) Directive (image courtesy EUROPEN).

In a joint statement, the 73 organisations make a set of recommendations to EU negotiators aimed at ensuring that the proposed Single-Use Plastics Directive (SUP) provides legal certainty and does not lead to a patchwork of national measures that would fragment the Internal Market, thereby undermining the free movement of goods and the transition to a Circular Economy.

The signatories to the statement acknowledge the problem of plastic pollution and are committed to finding and contributing to solutions, but emphasise that an EU legal framework that undermines the Single Market will fail to achieve the intended objectives.

We fully acknowledge the need to address the plastic pollution issue and more broadly we support the objective of the EU’s Circular Economy strategy. But we will only succeed with a clear, evidence-based, harmonised and predictable legal framework that is able to guide and secure sustainable investments. Fragmentation of the Single Market would seriously impede investments in innovation and the transition to a Circular Economy, said Hans van Bochove of Coca-Cola European Partners and EUROPEN Chairman.

An EU Directive that enables individual Member States to impose a wide range of disparate restrictions on packaging risks a chilling effect on the very investment at scale in innovation, including eco-innovation for circularity, that the transition to a Circular Economy demands the signatories point out.

Unlike national restrictions on carrier bags, allowed through a derogation from the EU Directive on Packaging and Packaging Waste (PPWD), derogations for a range of packaging applications will impact not only the free movement of packaging but also the free movement of packaged goods.

In order to avoid this scenario, the 73 signatories to the joint statement call on the EU institutions to:

  • Secure the primacy of the PPWD for all packaging and packaged items in case of conflict between different EU legal instruments;
  • Ensure that any national measures that may be adopted as a result of the SUP directive are duly pre-notified to the European Commission and without prejudice to the Singla Market clause of the PPWD;
  • Measures to achieve consumption reduction targets envisaged in the SUP directive cannot include unilateral national restrictions on the placing on the market of specific packaging applications.

We should be mindful that in the rush to reach an agreement on the SUP directive we don’t let policy coherence go by the wayside. We want the measures to be effective, so we must avoid an overlapping, contradictory legislative patchwork. Any further measures relating to the regulation of packaging materials should be addressed in a harmonised way in the context of the forthcoming review of the PPWD, which sets EU-wide standards, including the Essential Requirements that packaging placed on the EU market must meet, said Virginia Janssens, EUROPEN Managing Director.

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