The Circular Economy was a primary focus of the Metal Packaging Europe “Ahead of the Pack” event held in Brussels on 23 January.
Representatives from the packaging value chain, academia, civil society and the European institutions debated how the Circular Economy for packaging can be consolidated and accelerated. Participants highlighted the implications of the shift in packaging design across the sector: Light-weighting irrespective of recycling characteristics was the primary aim for decades, but is now being replaced by designs aimed for recycling.
Maja Desgrées du Loú , policy officer at the European Commission said: “We are currently undertaking studies on the Essential Requirements and fee modulation to align both with circular economy thinking. Closing material loops and working on packaging designed for recycling will become ever more important in the future.”
Gordon Shade, chief executive officer of Metal Packaging Europe, said: “The metal packaging industry calls for design for circularity to be the reference point in the revision of the Essential Requirements. This is key to keeping valuable materials in the loop, which otherwise would be lost.
“Product design and subsequent recycling have always been a strength for the metal packaging sector. We will continue to work with our partners in industry, society and policy-makers to put in place an even more rigorous framework, which will reflect our ambitions.”
Participants also discussed potential stumbling blocks on the way to circular packaging. Key focal points, which require to be addressed quickly, include the following:
· Extended Producer Responsibility should set incentives for circularity based on real end-of-life costs
· Life-Cycle Assessments (LCAs) and their methodology need to be adapted to reflect circular economy thinking.
These matters will be the subject of workshops organised by Metal Packaging Europe as part of its commitment towards reinforcing the strengths of metal packaging.