Finding the Right Balanced Approach for Transport Packaging

Amidst the global push towards sustainability, the transport packaging sector faces a crucial challenge. How do we implement policies that foster a circular economy while addressing the specific needs and limitations of transport packaging? As trilogue negotiations on the Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR) progress, policymakers need to develop strategies that are both impactful and grounded in scientific insight. Together with 17 other associations, EUMEPS has signed a joint statement about the urgent need to find the right balanced approach for transport packaging. Here are the main takeaways.


Understanding Reuse in the Context of Packaging Circularity

The adoption of reuse practices in packaging represents a significant step towards achieving a circular economy. However, it’s crucial to recognize that the potential for reuse varies across different packaging formats. There are situations where the environmental benefits of reuse are outweighed by practical limitations, such as when it compromises the product’s safety or the packaging’s functionality. Special consideration must be given to flexible transport packaging, including pallet wrappings and shrink wraps, designed for specific roles such as ensuring load stability and safety, which may not be conducive to reuse without affecting their primary functions.


The Critical Role of Flexible and Protective Packaging

The function of flexible and protective packaging extends beyond mere convenience, playing a vital role in the safety and hygiene of transported goods. These packaging solutions, tailored to specific logistical needs, offer indispensable protection against damage, contamination, and spoilage. They are especially crucial in the transport of food, pharmaceuticals, and sensitive products, ensuring they reach their destination safely. The potential for these materials to be recycled and incorporated with recycled content highlights the need for a nuanced approach to policymaking, one that values their contribution to sustainability without compromising their primary functions.


Addressing the Challenges of Implementing Reuse Policies

The drive for reuse in transport packaging must be tempered with a realistic understanding of the challenges involved. The unique properties that make flexible and protective packaging essential for transport safety cannot be maintained through repeated reuse, presenting a barrier to the adoption of reuse practices. The scarcity of viable reuse alternatives in Europe that match the performance and safety standards of existing packaging underscores the need for careful policy formulation. Additionally, the transition to reuse systems demands significant investment and logistical adjustments, suggesting a gradual approach to the adoption of reuse obligations.


Crafting Policies for a Sustainable Future in Transport Packaging

As we seek to balance sustainability objectives with the practical realities of transport packaging, policymakers must adopt a measured and informed approach. Recommendations include preserving exemptions for certain types of packaging, re-evaluating reuse targets considering practical developments, and allowing adequate time for the industry to adapt to new systems. By focusing on realistic and science-based measures, we can support the transport packaging sector in its vital role while advancing towards our environmental objectives.


What about EPS used in transport packaging?

EPS is known for its insulation and shock-absorbent properties and plays an indispensable role in the safe and efficient transport of a wide range of goods, from temperature-sensitive food items to fragile medical supplies. The potential environmental benefits offered by EPS, such as reduced fuel consumption and carbon emissions due to its lightweight nature, and its recyclability, align with circular economy principles.


The journey towards sustainable transport packaging requires thoughtful consideration and collaboration among all stakeholders. We encourage policymakers, industry experts, and the community to engage with our joint industry statement for a deeper understanding of our position and recommendations. Let’s work together to forge a path to sustainability that respects the unique challenges of transport packaging.

Read the full statement here and join us in shaping a greener, more efficient future.