March 2024: political trilogue on the European Packaging Regulation

The plans for introducing a Europe-wide mandatory deposit are in the European trilogue process - what does this mean?
The much-discussed European Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR), which among other things includes a mandatory deposit throughout Europe for one-way beverage packaging, has reached a decisive coordination phase - the so-called trilogue.

Following a draft by the EU Commission, which used its right of initiative to push for new regulations on packaging law in the member states, amendments and supplementary proposals were submitted by the EU Parliament and the European Council. These three institutions have each developed their own versions, some of which differ greatly from one another. Like many other market and system participants, the DPG participated in this process with comments and proposals for a practical design of the PPWR. The DPG was particularly focused on clarifying how successful deposit systems work and explaining the legal framework required for this. We also reported on this in our article from 13.04.2023.

In its latest version, the European Council included the following aspects, which were also demanded by the DPG:

  1. If mandatory deposits are introduced in all European member states, existing deposit systems such as DPG's should be able to maintain their regulations (on labeling, etc.) and thus their successful, established operation (grandfathering).
  2. Member states should now have the option of setting a minimum filling volume of 0.1 l for one-way beverage packaging subject to a mandatory deposit.
  3. There should be exemptions from minimum requirements for existing deposit systems if the collection rate is at least 90%.
  4. Adjustments to the minimum requirements for deposit systems have been taken into account. This refers to changes such as
    a) the deletion of any tax regulations on the deposit amount and
    b) the deletion of the passage on the interoperability of deposit systems.

From DPG's point of view, these aspects would be a significant step in the right direction. Parliament's version does not yet take these points fully into consideration.

In the current trilogue process, the three versions of the PPWR are being negotiated - the process is called "informal compromise finding" and takes place behind closed doors. In order to make this process target-oriented and to arrive at a negotiated compromise paper, the last day of political negotiations for the time being has been set for 4 March 2024.

What happens after the trilogue procedure, who decides on the compromise paper?
The compromise negotiated in the trilogue is provisional and must then be formally adopted by the Council and Parliament.

In view of the upcoming elections to the EU Parliament in June 2024, the timetable for the adoption of the compromise paper on the PPWR by the existing EU Parliament is very tight.

At this point in time, it is not possible to predict whether the parties involved will be able to successfully conclude the trilogue on the PPWR on time.

If the compromise paper is not adopted by the EU Parliament by April 2024, the Parliament will first be re-elected in June 2024 and will not meet again until September 2024 - then with a new composition. Although ongoing legislative procedures can also be continued with a new EU Parliament, the European elections can significantly change the majority in the EU Parliament.

The process of negotiating and adopting the PPWR could therefore only be resumed from this point onwards.

Despite the time pressure in the trilogue, it should be of the utmost importance that existing ecological achievements such as the German Deposit System are not impaired by the regulations of the new PPWR agreed in the process. Because one thing is clear. The Green Deal in the plastics sector is also dependent on functioning deposit systems for one-way beverage packaging with high return rates, such as those already achieved by the German Deposit System.

The Green Deal with an extension of the deposit obligation in the EU - what changes would result for the German Deposit System?

Insofar as suitable compromise proposals are negotiated that offer sufficient protection for existing systems, there would be no major changes in Germany with regard to one-way beverage packaging, as extended producer responsibility (EPR) for glass, paper and packaging was already implemented in 1991 and supplemented by the comprehensive deposit and take-back obligation for single-use beverage containers introduced by law in 2005. Since then, the DPG, as a privately financed non-profit organisation and operator of a nationwide deposit system, has been setting up a reliable framework in line with the German Packaging Act (Verpackungsgesetz – VerpackG) for all players involved in the market - for the companies involved from the retail and food sectors, but also for the consumers of one-way beverage packaging and, above all, for a society that is willing to conserve resources and promote sustainability.

As the largest economy in the EU, Germany can look back on almost 20 years of experience and success. Every year, around 20 billion one-way beverage packaging are processed via more than 40,000 Reverse Vending Machines and supplementary Sorting Plants using the DPG System. The return rates of more than 98 %1 underline the broad consumer acceptance and the ecological success of the system, which thus makes a significant contribution to reducing waste and conserving resources.

An overview of the sustainability aspects of our system can be found here.

 

1 See study of GVM „Aufkommen und Verwertung von PET-Getränkeflaschen in Deutschland 2019“, October 2020, Publisher GVM Gesellschaft für Verpackungsmarktforschung, available under https://dpg-pfandsystem.de/images/pdf/2020-10-19-Kurzfassung-Verwertung-PET-Getraenkeflaschen-2019.pd


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