ACE calls on European Commission to exempt aseptic beverage cartons from EU reuse targets
03 Feb 2023 --- The Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment (ACE) is calling for additional amendments to be made to the European Commission’s (EC) Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (PPWD) revisions. The alliance, whose members include beverage carton producers Tetra Pak, SIG Combibloc and Elopak, says a 90% collection target should be enforced for beverage cartons throughout the EU.
ACE also says the PPWD’s reuse targets, which were a major source of controversy for the industry after the directive was revised last year, should not apply to packaging for sensitive microbial products such as juice, which require aseptic materials to maintain hygiene.
“Beverage cartons are a sustainable and essential packaging solution allowing the safe transport, storage, and use of sensitive products such as milk, plant-based products, and juice – beverage cartons pack 75% of milk and 59% of the juice in the EU,” states ACE.
“Their composition and lightness allow easy transport and long shelf life. Beverage cartons have the lowest carbon footprint in their category of milk and juice as demonstrated by several LCA studies, including by NGOs.”
New rapporteur, new revisions
ACE says it welcomes the appointment of Frédérique Ries MEP (Renew Europe, Belgium) as rapporteur for the PPWD.
“While the beverage carton industry supports the EC’s vision that by 2030 all packaging should be recyclable and/or reusable – as demonstrated by the sector’s Roadmap to 2030 and Beyond – we consider the following additions to the draft legislation as essential to meet the goals of an ambitious PPWR revision and look forward to an open dialogue with our stakeholders in the EU institutions,” says the association.
Firstly, ACE says a 90% mandatory collection target should be enforced. “The first step to recycling is a collection – the industry needs enabling conditions to ensure beverage cartons are recycled at scale by 2035.”
“A mandatory collection target for packaging formats would provide predictable packaging waste flows that would incentivize investments in recycling infrastructure and technologies.”
The debate over reuse targets is a major issue in the PPWD, with many industry players saying that switching from recycling to reuse methods would destroy millions of jobs and investments in infrastructure throughout the EU.
However, ACE says beverage cartons must be exempted as they protect sensitive microbiological products that cannot maintain their qualities through the addition of preservatives and so need to be contained in aseptic packaging.
“This is especially important for products with a long shelf life. ACE believes mandatory reuse targets should exempt sensitive beverages with these specific needs,” says the association.
The EC’s proposal defines recycled content targets for contact-sensitive packaging of respectively 10% and 50% by 2030 and 2040. ACE members say they are keen to include recycled plastic in their cartons on the condition that it is available on the market at an economically viable price and authorized for use in food contact applications.
These two conditions still need to be met at scale and ACE says it expects that ambitious recycled content targets included in the PPWR will make market availability even more challenging.
“Therefore, we encourage the EC to re-assess the availability of such recycled content prior to the enforcement of these targets. To help mitigate the challenge of the availability of recycled content on the market, an equivalent should be established between biobased/renewable plastic content and recycled plastic content as sustainably sourced renewable materials are a low-carbon, circular and food-safe solution,” it says.
ACE also says the Design for Recycling (DfR) Guidelines, which are technical documents that need to be evidence-based, robust, and take account of industry innovation, should “duly reflect in-depth technical knowledge and latest innovation.”
“it is important to include experts from the industry and technical institutes in the development of the DfR Guidelines,” the association concludes.
Edited by Louis Gore-Langton
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