Legislative action is proving necessary to move packaging in a more sustainable direction, leading governments across the world to implement a wide variety of new laws aimed at reducing packaging waste and promoting a circular economy. This includes EPR laws, deposit systems, new taxes, bans on single-use products, and chemical regulations. These will continue to become more common and stricter in the coming years and few areas of fmcg will find themselves unaffected.
This report comes in PPT.
While consumer interest in sustainable packaging is growing, it will not in itself be enough to move the packaging industry in a more sustainable direction within the timeframe needed. Legislation will be required to do that. This fact means that as external environmental pressures grow, so too will the scale of packaging regulation.
The majority of packaging regulation is aimed at curbing plastic waste, particularly in single-use formats. How exactly plastics are targeted varies though, and the world has seen a mix of bans, taxes, deposit bills, and incentives to use recycled materials.
EPR laws are proliferating across the world. Their chief advantage though, flexibility, also makes their impact very different in different areas. In the coming years, EPR will be a guiding principle of waste management, onto which more detailed legislation, like deposit schemes, will be placed.
Separate from action taken with sustainability in mind, chemicals like PFAS, BPA, and phthalates are under increasing regulatory pressure, which is unlikely to let up. Bans on these chemicals will be more common in the coming years, making this the most important aspect of regulation not related directly to sustainability goals. This will most affect plastics although other pack types like cans will also see some effect.
The projected 2024 treaty currently being negotiated on plastics usage has potential to be the most impactful packaging legislation ever produced if national mandates and/or caps on plastics production are agreed on. Even if a weaker treaty is adopted, it will set the direction for national and industry goals on packaging production for years to come.
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