Focus on environmental protection: EU regulations for packaging and recycling

Specific regulations apply to the disposal of packaging. Besides being practical, packaging must also be labelled appropriately and be as recyclable as possible. For example, the regulations for packaging disposal at METRO in France and in Italy are very different.

Customer asks – METRO answers: Why does the labelling on packaging for the same product vary in different countries?

What´s it all about?

Hello METRO, why do the labels on your packaging differ for one and the same product?

Hello METRO -new series on mpulse.de

Hello METRO,
why do the labels on your packaging differ for one and the same product?

Different countries, different requirements

There are various country-specific requirements for the disposal of product packaging and the accumulation of packaging waste. Amongst other things, this applies to the labelling. It provides information about the packaging material including its proper disposal and recycling. So far, there are no standardised rules in Europe on how packaging should be disposed of and recycled. Consequently, the packaging of a product in France can look completely different in Italy. As a result, each country has its own recycling codes that customers can use as a guide. As METRO sells its own-brand products in more than 30 countries, all required labels have to be printed on the packaging. This can lead to packaging for the same product being labelled differently and varying in size.
 

Harmonisation for environmental protection

The European Commission has drawn up a new Regulation for product packaging to further reduce packaging waste and promote the circular economy. The goal by 2030 is for all packaging in Europe to be uniformly reusable or recyclable. To achieve this goal, all packaging should be made of recyclable or reusable materials and labelled with harmonised sorting instructions. With business operations in 16 EU countries, METRO is also affected by the upcoming changes and will have to adapt its packaging accordingly. While packaging made of glass, metal and paper is already 100% integrated into a recycling system at the wholesaler, this is not yet the case for plastics. However, METRO will increasingly switch to using recyclable materials for plastic packaging in the future.

 

How does recycling help the circular economy?

By reusing materials such as paper, metal and plastic, recycling helps to reduce the need for new raw materials. Hence, it conserves resources and minimises waste. It also saves energy! For example, manufacturing products from recycled plastic often requires less energy than new production
 

Reduce, renew, recycle

To mitigate environmental pollution, METRO bases the packaging of its own brands on the ‘3R’ principle: Reduce, Renew, Recycle. An example: Reducing the thickness of olive oil bottles for METRO’s own brand Aro generates two benefits: 40% less plastic is being used and more products fit in the cartons and on the pallets. As a result, only seven trucks are still on the road within a year, which significantly reduces CO2 emissions.

Before  ➡   After

There are various country-specific requirements for the disposal of product packaging and the accumulation of packaging waste.   Customer asks – METRO answers: Why does the labelling on packaging for the same product vary in different countries?

In order to further promote recycling, the proportion of recycled plastic is also being steadily increased. For example, the production of new plastic for METRO Chef’s balsamic vinegar packaging has already been reduced by 70%. 

Before   ➡   After

Focus on environmental protection: EU regulations for packaging and recycling   Specific regulations apply to the disposal of packaging. Besides being practical, packaging must also be labelled appropriately and be as recyclable as possible.

Furthermore, METRO uses FSC®-certified sources for packaging materials such as paper, cardboard and wood. This certification indicates that forests are managed responsibly.

The challenge of reuse

The Europe-wide reuse of packaging is an important step towards a circular economy. However, it could also lead to increased energy consumption and emissions. For example, packaging needs to be transported back every time it is reused and then washed, cleaned and dried. Moreover, there are restrictions on the reuse of packaging for food, which also limits its availability on the market. Depending on the materials or chemicals with which the packaging previously came into contact, it may not be reused for food.
No plastic for organic lemons

Packaging? Preferably sustainably!

Plastic can pack it in: eco-friendly packaging relies on paper, cellulose and other sustainable solutions.

Less packaging waste for METRO own brands by 2030

In order to protect the environment and fulfil the requirements of the new EU Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation, METRO is planning extensive measures to reduce packaging waste for its own brands. By 2030, this measure is expected to reduce a total of 10,000 tonnes of plastic from all packaging. At the same time, the proportion of recycled plastic is supposed to be increased by 30%. Additionally, METRO aims to use FSC® and PEFC-certified materials from sustainable forestry and a minimum of 70% recycled content for all own-brand packaging made of paper, board, cartons and wood. Beyond that, METRO also wants to completely eliminate materials such as PVC and EPS, and all packaging should be 100% recyclable, reusable or compostable.
 

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