Dublin-based cardboard box manufacturer Smurfit Kappa has raised concerns over proposed changes to European Union (EU) packaging regulations.

The company warns that these amendments could have a “counterproductive” effect, potentially leading to a doubling of plastic usage within the EU by 2040.

The European Commission introduced the Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation in November last year, intending to reduce packaging pollution and ensure that all packaging becomes reusable or recyclable by 2030.

However, members of the European Parliament have tabled a series of amendments to this proposal. One of the key amendments suggests the implementation of mandatory reuse targets for all packaging materials.

It proposes a reuse target of at least 90% for transport packaging by 2040.

Potential negative impacts on plastic and paper packaging industries

Smurfit Kappa, a member of the European Corrugated Packaging Association (Fefco), claims that the proposed amendments, specifically the mandatory reuse targets for all packaging materials, may result in an increase in plastic usage and negatively impact the paper packaging industry, which focuses on recycling.

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Fefco asserts that meeting the reuse targets would flood the market with plastic packaging, such as reusable crates.

This would require the plastics industry to produce an additional 8.1 billion plastic crates, resulting in an extra 12 million tonnes of plastic in circulation.

Industry leaders express concerns

Smurfit Kappa CEO of the European division Saverio Mayer expresses support for the ambitions of the EU regulations but criticises the proposed amendments as counterproductive.

Mayer warns that these changes would double the amount of unnecessary plastic produced by 2040, going against the global trend of reducing plastic usage. UK-based company DS Smith, a leading player in the corrugated cardboard industry, also opposes the amendments.

DS Smith head of strategy and innovation, Alex Manistry, emphasises that while they support the EU’s goals and new legislation, mandating reuse targets for paper and cardboard would negatively impact the corrugated cardboard industry and hinder progress on climate change.