Finding the Right Balanced Approach for Transport Packaging

Amidst the glob­al push towards sus­tain­abil­i­ty, the trans­port pack­ag­ing sec­tor faces a cru­cial chal­lenge. How do we imple­ment poli­cies that fos­ter a cir­cu­lar econ­o­my while address­ing the spe­cif­ic needs and lim­i­ta­tions of trans­port pack­ag­ing? As tri­logue nego­ti­a­tions on the Pack­ag­ing and Pack­ag­ing Waste Reg­u­la­tion (PPWR) progress, pol­i­cy­mak­ers need to devel­op strate­gies that are both impact­ful and ground­ed in sci­en­tif­ic insight. Togeth­er with 17 oth­er asso­ci­a­tions, EUMEPS has signed a joint state­ment about the urgent need to find the right bal­anced approach for trans­port pack­ag­ing. Here are the main takeaways.


Understanding Reuse in the Context of Packaging Circularity

The adop­tion of reuse prac­tices in pack­ag­ing rep­re­sents a sig­nif­i­cant step towards achiev­ing a cir­cu­lar econ­o­my. How­ev­er, it’s cru­cial to rec­og­nize that the poten­tial for reuse varies across dif­fer­ent pack­ag­ing for­mats. There are sit­u­a­tions where the envi­ron­men­tal ben­e­fits of reuse are out­weighed by prac­ti­cal lim­i­ta­tions, such as when it com­pro­mis­es the product’s safe­ty or the packaging’s func­tion­al­i­ty. Spe­cial con­sid­er­a­tion must be giv­en to flex­i­ble trans­port pack­ag­ing, includ­ing pal­let wrap­pings and shrink wraps, designed for spe­cif­ic roles such as ensur­ing load sta­bil­i­ty and safe­ty, which may not be con­ducive to reuse with­out affect­ing their pri­ma­ry functions.


The Critical Role of Flexible and Protective Packaging

The func­tion of flex­i­ble and pro­tec­tive pack­ag­ing extends beyond mere con­ve­nience, play­ing a vital role in the safe­ty and hygiene of trans­port­ed goods. These pack­ag­ing solu­tions, tai­lored to spe­cif­ic logis­ti­cal needs, offer indis­pens­able pro­tec­tion against dam­age, con­t­a­m­i­na­tion, and spoilage. They are espe­cial­ly cru­cial in the trans­port of food, phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, and sen­si­tive prod­ucts, ensur­ing they reach their des­ti­na­tion safe­ly. The poten­tial for these mate­ri­als to be recy­cled and incor­po­rat­ed with recy­cled con­tent high­lights the need for a nuanced approach to pol­i­cy­mak­ing, one that val­ues their con­tri­bu­tion to sus­tain­abil­i­ty with­out com­pro­mis­ing their pri­ma­ry functions.


Challenges of Imple­ment­ing Reuse Policies

The dri­ve for reuse in trans­port pack­ag­ing must be tem­pered with a real­is­tic under­stand­ing of the chal­lenges involved. The unique prop­er­ties that make flex­i­ble and pro­tec­tive pack­ag­ing essen­tial for trans­port safe­ty can­not be main­tained through repeat­ed reuse, pre­sent­ing a bar­ri­er to the adop­tion of reuse prac­tices. The scarci­ty of viable reuse alter­na­tives in Europe that match the per­for­mance and safe­ty stan­dards of exist­ing pack­ag­ing under­scores the need for care­ful pol­i­cy for­mu­la­tion. Addi­tion­al­ly, the tran­si­tion to reuse sys­tems demands sig­nif­i­cant invest­ment and logis­ti­cal adjust­ments, sug­gest­ing a grad­ual approach to the adop­tion of reuse obligations.


Crafting Policies for a Sustainable Future in Transport Packaging

As we seek to bal­ance sus­tain­abil­i­ty objec­tives with the prac­ti­cal real­i­ties of trans­port pack­ag­ing, pol­i­cy­mak­ers must adopt a mea­sured and informed approach. Rec­om­men­da­tions include pre­serv­ing exemp­tions for cer­tain types of pack­ag­ing, re-eval­u­at­ing reuse tar­gets con­sid­er­ing prac­ti­cal devel­op­ments, and allow­ing ade­quate time for the indus­try to adapt to new sys­tems. By focus­ing on real­is­tic and sci­ence-based mea­sures, we can sup­port the trans­port pack­ag­ing sec­tor in its vital role while advanc­ing towards our envi­ron­men­tal objectives.


What about EPS used in transport packaging?

EPS is known for its insu­la­tion and shock-absorbent prop­er­ties and plays an indis­pens­able role in the safe and effi­cient trans­port of a wide range of goods, from tem­per­a­ture-sen­si­tive food items to frag­ile med­ical sup­plies. The poten­tial envi­ron­men­tal ben­e­fits offered by EPS, such as reduced fuel con­sump­tion and car­bon emis­sions due to its light­weight nature, and its recy­cla­bil­i­ty, align with cir­cu­lar econ­o­my principles.

The jour­ney towards sus­tain­able trans­port pack­ag­ing requires thought­ful con­sid­er­a­tion and col­lab­o­ra­tion among all stake­hold­ers. We encour­age pol­i­cy­mak­ers, indus­try experts, and the com­mu­ni­ty to engage with our joint indus­try state­ment for a deep­er under­stand­ing of our posi­tion and rec­om­men­da­tions. Let’s work togeth­er to forge a path to sus­tain­abil­i­ty that respects the unique chal­lenges of trans­port packaging.

AuthorIngrid Morin