Navigating the complex landscape of packaging and waste regulation requires not just insight, but also innovative solutions. EUMEPS, having just published its third position paper on this pivotal subject, provides a critical perspective on the new Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation. In the position paper, EUMEPS explore the untapped potential of Expanded Polystyrene (EPS), address gaps in the proposed Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation, and offer insights into achieving a balanced approach between sustainability and practicality. Read on to discover why EUMEPS is the essential partner for understanding and shaping the future of sustainable packaging in Europe.
The Untapped Potential of Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) in Sustainable Packaging
EUMEPS, as the unified voice of the Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) industry in Europe, is deeply committed to environmental stewardship. We wholeheartedly support the new proposal for the Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation, aimed at mitigating the environmental and health impacts of packaging. A cornerstone of our mission is to advocate for the sustainable and responsible use of EPS. Life-cycle analyses (LCAs) have time and again validated the environmental advantages of EPS over alternative materials.
Why EPS, you ask? It is a lightweight, versatile material, comprised of 98% air. This not only minimises the resources needed for its production but also significantly reduces the carbon footprint of EPS products. Moreover, it is exceptionally recyclable. In collaboration with RecyClass, EUMEPS has taken strides to further improve recycling rates, even developing Design for Recycling guidelines. These efforts have resulted in actual recycling rates of EPS packaging exceeding 50% in most Member States.
Addressing Concerns and Gaps in the Proposed Regulation
While the overarching aim of the new Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation is commendable, certain elements could inadvertently thwart its environmental objectives. EUMEPS has expressed reservations, particularly concerning Article 26. Unrealistic targets for reusable packaging, especially for large home appliances and food contact transport, could lead to a surge in logistical and environmental challenges.
It’s not just about setting targets; it’s about setting achievable and scientifically backed targets. EUMEPS stands in support of the ITRE report, advocating for a science-based approach to assess the most sustainable options. We emphasise the importance of life cycle assessments and encourage policymakers to adopt these methods for a balanced and realistic execution of the Regulation.
Striking a Balance between Sustainability and Practicality
The current global climate, marked by challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic, reminds us of the importance of hygiene and safety alongside sustainability. Reusable packaging often requires rigorous sanitization, consuming significant amounts of water and energy. Questions about the hygienic integrity of reused systems, especially those in direct contact with food and sensitive items, remain pertinent.
Furthermore, the production of durable reusable materials often involves higher energy consumption and emissions compared to single-use EPS alternatives. Therefore, in our quest for environmental preservation, it is crucial to also consider the practical aspects, ensuring a healthy and safe environment for consumers.
EUMEPS remains steadfast in its commitment to elevate the circularity of the EPS industry while contributing to Europe’s sustainability goals. As a leading authority on EPS, we invite dialogue and collaboration with EU regulators and policymakers to address the complexities and challenges outlined here. Stand with EUMEPS in constructing a more resilient, sustainable, and informed future. If you wish to further understand the nuances of the EPS industry and its regulatory landscape, EUMEPS is your go-to partner for expertise and guidance.