EU pushes packaging re-use, not reduction

A new European Directive stipulates levels of packaging waste to be recovered and recycled, but it does not mention reducing the amount of packaging produced. The directive could lead to new trends in packaging design.

According to the directive, between 50 and 65 per cent of packaging waste must be recovered, and between 25 and 45 per cent of all packaging materials recycled. A minimum of 15 per cent of each packaging material must be recycled.

These targets for packaging have to be reached within five years from the directive’s implementation this year.

Dorothy MacKenzie, Dragon International director and author of Green Design, claims the directive focuses too much on waste disposal instead of trying to reduce the amount of packaging.

“Designers should think beyond the legislation to what makes environmental sense,” says MacKenzie.

Major companies such as Procter and Gamble are trying to reduce the amount of packaging, she says.

“There will be an expectation from clients for designers to come up with innovative designs to give smaller packs the same shelf impact,” she adds.

The Environment Agency will produce a consultation paper on the producer responsibility scheme, deciding where the levy will go in the packaging chain.

The directive calls for consumers, industry and authorities “to co-operate in the spirit of shared responsibility”.

Working with more recycled materials will offer challenges to packaging designers, claims Judi Green of The Greenhouse.

“Recycled materials are often not as good quality, they absorb the ink and are dull. The directive won’t make a difference to design per se, but there is the problem of finding materials – there is a big opportunity on the development side,” says Green.

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