For every manufacturer in every industry, packaging plays an essential role. From the simple promotion of the product to its protection and transport, from textiles to delivery pallets, packaging can be found everywhere and has a wide range of usage.
The afterlife of packaging, either as waste or recycling, is also an issue; and with every environmental and health issue comes a comprehensive set of national and international regulations and standards.
EU Packaging and Packaging Waste Directives
In December 1994, the European Union (EU) adopted Directive 94/62/EC on ‘Packaging and Packaging Waste’. The directive was published in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) on 31 December 1994 and went into effect on 30 June 1996.
The EU directive covers all packaging, including those designed for commercial, industrial and domestic purposes, regardless of the material used for the containment, handling, delivery and presentation of goods, from raw materials to processed goods, from the producer to the user or the consumer.
Essential requirements are defined under Directive 94/62/EC. First, the packaging weight and volume must be minimal in order to maintain the safety, hygiene and acceptance of the packaged product. Then, he packaging must also be manufactured in such a way as to enable its reuse or recovery, including recycling, and also in a manner that minimizes the presence of hazardous substances in emissions, ash or leachate when incinerated or landfilled.
Packaging and its waste management are therefore complex and need to be precisely defined. That is why, for reasons of legal certainty as well as matters of harmonization of the definition and interpretation of ‘packaging’, the EU Directive 94/62/EC was amended in February 2013 by the Directive 2013/2/EU.
The latter is therefore more detailed as it provides illustrative examples of components that are packaging, part of packaging and non-packaging (see Table 1 within the latest Consumer Compact article — a more precise list for what had remained unclear until now.
The Directive 94/62/EC also established a limit of 100 ppm for the sum of the concentration levels of lead, cadmium, mercury and chromium (VI) present in packaging or packaging components and laid out the criteria for the definition of ‘packaging’. The three groups of packaging defined in Directive 94/62/EC are:
- Sales packaging or primary packaging.
- Grouped packaging or secondary packaging.
- Transport packaging or tertiary packaging.
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