Legislation and certifications for plastic packaging material

To achieve a circular economy, it is important to increase the amount of recycled plastic waste. Positive: this quantity is increasing. Less positive: it is not rising fast enough. The main point of the EU’s waste policy is to follow circular principles. Recycling is one of the main ways to reduce the consumption of primary raw materials by replacing them with secondary raw materials, consisting of recycled waste. It is important for companies to be aware of existing and upcoming legislation/guidelines regarding recycled waste. There are also certifications that companies can apply for if they meet certain guidelines.

Legislation and guidelines from Europe and within the Netherlands

On January 16, 2018, the “European strategy for plastics in a circular economy” was published by the European Commission. The Plastic Strategy describes the EU’s vision for the use of plastics and a more valuable contribution to the EU’s circular economy. The vision describes that by 2030 the vast majority of all plastic packaging will be reusable and recyclable. To achieve this, the European Commission proposes several measures. The Plastic Strategy from the EU has consequences for legislation in the Netherlands. In practice, this means that the Wet milieubeheer and the Besluit Beheer Verpakkingen 2014 will be amended. Adjustments include: new targets for the amount of recycled plastic waste and its sorting, revision of the essential requirements for plastic packaging and stricter rules for disposable plastics. Another means of achieving the goals of the Plastic Strategy? Recycled Content!

Commitment to Recycled Content – An appeal from industry

There is an imbalance between supply and demand for recycled plastic. The term Recycled Content is interpreted as a call for mandatory requirements on the application of this recyclate in new plastic products. The end-of-life phase must be taken into account in the design phase of packaging, such that the plastic packaging is more recyclable. EPS (Styrofoam) is already banned from use in food packaging and cups. Oxo-degradable plastics should no longer be used at all.

Plastic waste generated by sector in 2018. Source: Review No. 04/2020: “EU-maatregelen om de kwestie van plastic afval aan te pakken”.

Many EU member states already carry the idea of Recycled Content on a political level. However, to avoid market distortions between member states, policy making on a European scale is necessary. Representative companies from the plastics industry (PlasticsEurope) endorse a revision to the EU’s Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (PPWD), calling for a 30% Recycled Content target by 2030. PlasticsEurope says it is a “key piece for the transition to a circular economy for plastics. By 2025, the share of recycled content in products must be scaled up to 10 million tons. To achieve this goal, 290 members of the value chain are brought together. In short, legislation for recycled plastic in packaging materials is coming from Europe. This means that companies will have to comply with the regulations, in order to collectively strive for a circular economy.

Do you want to know how your packaging material scores on recyclability, circularity and environmental impact? Check out the handy tool from KIDV: The Sustainable Packaging Compass – Kidv Site.


Existing certifications for your company

Companies that meet certain standards regarding Recycled Content can apply for certifications. Below are highlighted the most relevant ones for you, as issued by Control Union Certifications.

RCS 100 – Recycled Claim Standard

The RCS is a standard that monitors the Chain of Custody of recycled raw materials throughout the supply chain. It verifies the presence and amount of recycled material in a finished product. This is done on the basis of third-party Chain of Custody checks. RCS can serve both as a business-to-business tool for companies to demonstrate high quality products, but also as a communication tool to consumers. The standard is also intended for companies working with cotton.

GRS – Global Recycle Standard

The GRS is an international voluntary product standard that establishes requirements for third-party certification of recycled content, Chain of Custody, social and environmental practices, and chemical restrictions. GRS is primarily intended for companies that want to verify their products for the amount of recycled content, both in finished products and intermediate stages. It aims to establish requirements to make accurate claims about materials used, good working conditions and the reduction of environmental impact. The standard is intended for companies working with cotton.

RPM – Responsible Plastic Management

Certification from RPM gives companies from all industries the opportunity to show that they are participating in a circular economy. The goal of RPM is to reduce unnecessary plastic use at companies and move toward models where plastic products are designed to be reused, recycled or composted. At Ecoras we can imagine that it is difficult to know exactly what to expect from your organization, looking at the upcoming policy developments. We are therefore happy to support you! For more information please contact Sven Jurgens.