Trialogue agreement reached on packaging legislation

An image showing green apples in plastic tray

By Kate Adams, Senior European Policy Advisor

On 30 November 2022, the European Commission published its proposal for revising the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive. With each European generating almost 180 kg of packaging waste per year, the proposals aim to curb waste in Europe.

Trialogue agreement reached 

On 4 March, the Council presidency and European Parliament reached a provisional agreement on the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive.

  • The agreement sets packaging reduction targets for the EU. By 2030, packaging must be reduced by 5%. By 2035, this figure will increase to 10%, and by 2040, 15%. In addition, the 2030 and 2040 headline targets for minimum recycled content in plastic packaging as proposed by the Commission are maintained.
  • The compromise also sets re-use and re-fill targets for beverages, although wine, milk and 'highly perishable beverages' are exempt.
  • Single use plastic packaging for less than 1.5kg pre-packed fresh fruit and vegetables will be banned. Member States may set up exemptions to this restriction if there is a need to avoid water and turgidity loss, microbiological hazards or physical shocks, oxidation, or if there is no other possibility to avoid commingling of organic fruits and vegetables with non-organic fruits and vegetables. 
  • Sticky labels on fruit and vegetables must be compostable. 
What are the next steps?

On 24 April the European Parliament voted in favour of the provisional agreement. The agreement must now be approved by Member States. If approved, the legislation will be published in the EU's Official Journal. The regulation will be applied from 18 months after the date of entry into force.

What will the impact be on UK farmer and growers?

The Commission's original proposal outlined that self-standing packaging or a packaged product entering the single market from a third county must comply with the Regulation.

The current packaging legislation is included in Annex II of the Northern Ireland Protocol and will therefore apply in Northern Ireland. 



Published as part of the Commission’s second Circular Economy Action Plan, the proposal aims to achieve this by reducing packaging waste, promoting cost-effective circular economy principles, and increasing the use of recycled materials in packaging.

Among the proposed changes are a move from a Directive to a Regulation, meaning that the law will become binding in all Member States. The proposals also outline the aim to eliminate single use packaging for less than 1.5kg of fresh fruit and vegetables from entry into force of the Regulation. Additionally, non-compostable fruit and vegetable stickers will be banned 2 years after entry into force of the Regulation, and contact-sensitive packaging made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET), widely used in food and drink packaging, must contain 30% recycled content by 2030. Targets will incrementally increase over the next 20 years to become more ambitious.

Re-use and re-filling are other key elements of the proposals, with mandatory re-use targets applied to wine (excluding sparkling wine) and spirits, with targets of 5% from January 2030 and 15% from January 2040 to be sold in reusable packaging. This is alongside other proposals including a ban on avoidable packaging, such as mini-shampoo bottles in hotels.  

More information

For more information and to view the proposals, see here.

This page was first published on 06 March 2024. It was updated on 26 April 2024.

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