European Parliament voted to revise the Packaging and Waste Directive

November 27, 2023 by
Frank Calviño

The European Parliament voted to revise the Packaging and Waste Directive. According to the modification, all packaging must be reusable or recyclable by 2030. Several parties have criticized the modification since the EU has not set uniform logistics standards across Europe.

So far, online sellers have been experimenting with recyclable and reusable packaging on their own volition. Amazon, for example, has started exclusively using recyclable packaging for European deliveries. 

According to the new directive, the European Parliament will provide reusable package quotas. By 2030, at least 10% of all shipments should be sent in a closed system - meaning they should be reusable within their area - This means that packaging needs to be made from materials that allow for recycling or reuse. Also, consumers must return the packaging even when they keep all products included in the order.

Empty boxes moving around… is it a wise choice? 

Although, in theory, the idea is logical, it creates a considerable problem: empty boxes need to be moved in a reverse logistic operation from the customer to the companies to be used again. This, in turn, could spell disaster as carbon fuel-based vehicles will surely be needed, 

“If it is not guaranteed that reusable packaging is accepted across service providers within the EU, we do not consider it acceptable to send empty packaging shipping across Europe in cross-border trade permanently. Returns are caused even if the customer keeps the item”, says Christoph Wenk-Fischer, General Manager at the German association of e-commerce, Bundesverband E-commerce und Versandhandel (Bevh).

To fix this, two possible solutions are being considered: the creation of reusable areas - to limit the distances involved in a potential reverse logistic operation, thus enabling ‘return spots’ for the customers to deliver the reusable packaging in their area. 

A second possible solution will be to manage some deals with carrier companies to guarantee that the inverse logistic operation of the reusable packages will be done using 100% electric vehicles or any other form of 0% carbon foot-print logistics.  

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