CPI: cardboard should be exempted

EU reuse targets will “drastically increase” plastic use, CPI warns

The EU regulations, tabled in November 2022, have been delayed by discussions

The EU’s reuse targets for transport packaging could backfire and cause a 12-million tonne surge in plastic consumption, the Confederation of Paper Industries (CPI) has warned.

The EU’s Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR), tabled in November 2022 and currently under discussion, has seen proposed amendments that would remove cardboard’s exemptions from reuse regulations.

The CPI warned that requirements to have reusable packaging would damage the circular cardboard economy.

Corrugated board is used for 75% of goods across Europe, and enjoys an 82% recycling rate, with decarbonisation efforts in the industry well underway.

The reorientation of the transport economy to reusable plastic instead of recyclable cardboard would necessitate the manufacture of 8.1 billion plastic crates – or up to 12 million tonnes of virgin plastic – by 2040, according to independent analysis commissioned by FEFCo, the European corrugated packaging association.

The CPI said it supported existing exemptions that applied to cardboard when used as packaging, and encouraged lawmakers to regulate divers packaging materials in a way suited to each.

Andrew Large, the body’s director general, said: “A one-size-fits-all approach to packaging regulations risks undermining the well-functioning paper packaging circular economy in favour of an explosion in the numbers of fossil oil-based plastic crates and unproven reuse systems.

“The revisions to PPWR will have a significant effect on consumers across Europe, and CPI urges the EU to support existing well known and well used recycling systems, such as those for cardboard.”