European Union (Packaging) Regulations 2020
Jurisdiction: Republic of Ireland
Commencement: 27th August 2020
Amends: European Union (Packaging) Regulations 2014
The European Union (Packaging) Regulations 2014 place legal responsibility on businesses and companies to ensure packaging waste is recycled as much as possible.
These Regulations lay down measures aimed at preventing the generation of packaging waste to reduce final disposal and to contribute to the transition towards a circular economy.
Requirements on all producers to recover and recycle packaging waste
New requirements are inserted for all producers* to recover and recycle packaging waste.
*A producer sells or supplies packaging material, packaging or packaged products to others.
Before 31st December 2025, producers who import packaged products or put product into packaging (i.e. packers or fillers) must take steps to ensure that at least 65% by weight of all packaging waste is recycled.
The following minimum targets by weight for recycling are to be met no later than 31st December 2025:
- Plastic – 50%.
- Wood – 25%.
- Ferrous metals – 70%.
- Aluminium – 50%.
- Glass – 70%.
- Paper and cardboard – 75%.
Targets from 1st January 2026
From 1st January 2026, any producer who imports packaged products or puts products into packaging must take steps to ensure that at least 70% by weight of all packaging waste is recycled. The following minimum targets for recycling by weight are to be met no later than 31st December 2030:
- Plastic – 55%.
- Wood – 30%.
- Ferrous metals – 80%.
- Aluminium – 60%.
- Glass – 75%.
- Paper and cardboard – 85%.
Prevention of waste
The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (The Minister) is required to ensure that preventative measures are implemented to prevent the generation of packaging waste and to minimise the environmental impact of packaging.
Such preventative measures include, but are not limited to:
- National programmes.
- Incentives through extended producer responsibility schemes.
- Consultation with economic operators and consumer and environmental organisations.
The Minister must take measures to encourage an increase in the availability of reusable packaging, without compromising food hygiene or the safety of the consumer.
Such measures may include:
- The use of deposit-return schemes.
- Setting qualitative or quantitative targets.
- The use of economic incentives.
- Setting a minimum percentage of reusable packaging placed on the market every year for each packaging stream.
After consultation with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Minister may adjust the recycling target for each material.
Return, collection and recovery systems
The Minister is required to take the necessary measures to ensure that systems are set up to provide for:
- the return and/or collection of used packaging and/or packaging waste from the final user or from the waste stream; and
- reuse or recovery (including recycling) of the packaging waste collected.
By 31st December 2024, the Minister is required to ensure that extended producer responsibility schemes are established for all types of packaging. The Minister is also required to take measures to promote high quality recycling of packaging waste and to meet the necessary quality standards for the relevant recycling sectors.
Data to be included in the packaging and packaging waste databases
Schedule 5 introduces a list of data to be included in relation to primary, secondary and tertiary packaging and household and non-household packaging waste.
The quantities for each category of material of packaging consumed, reused, recycled and recovered are to be included in the database.
Implementation plan to be submitted
Schedule 6 introduces the implementation plan to be submitted by the Minister. This must contain the following:
- An assessment of past, current and projected rates of recycling, landfilling and other treatment of packaging waste.
- An assessment of the implementation of waste management plans and waste prevention programmes.
- Reasons why targets cannot be met by the deadline.
- An assessment of the time extension to meet the targets (only required where a deadline is not met).
- Measures to achieve the targets set.
- A timetable for implementing measures.
- Information on funding for waste management, in line with the polluter-pays principle.
- Measures to improve planning and monitoring of waste management.
Environmental Protection Agency Duties
Calculation of recycling targets
An effective system of quality control and traceability of packaging waste is to be established to ensure these Regulations are met.
The EPA is required to calculate the weight of packaging waste generated and recycled per calendar year (i.e. 1st January – 31st December). The weight of packaging waste recycled is to be measured when the waste enters the recycling operation.
The weight of packaging waste generated and recycled is to be calculated by:
- the packaging that has become waste which has undergone all necessary checking, sorting or other operations to remove waste materials; and
- ensuring packaging waste enters the recycling operation where those waste materials are reprocessed into products, materials or substances.
Where biodegradable packaging waste enters treatment, it may be counted as recycled where the treatment generates the following output:
- digestate; or
- another similar substance.
Where the output is used on land, it may count as recycled only if it benefits agriculture or provides ecological improvement.
Please note: As a result of Directive (EU) 2018/852 amending Directive 94/62/EC on packaging and packaging waste, any packaging containing oxo-degradable plastic is not to be considered as biodegradable.
*oxo-degradable plastic packaging is made from plastic materials that include additives that breaks down the plastic material into micro-fragments.
The following end-of-waste materials are not to be counted towards the achievement of recycling targets:
- generate energy;
- backfilled; or
The EPA may take into account the recycling of metals separated after incineration, provided the recycled metals meet the quality criteria laid down in Article 11a(9) of Directive 2008/98/EC on waste (the ‘Waste Framework Directive’).
Information systems and reporting
The EPA is required to report data on reusable packaging for each calendar year to the European Commission. This must be submitted in accordance with the formats established under Article 12 and Annex III of Directive 94/62/EC on packaging and waste, as amended.
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