Essential Requirements

The EU Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive is the main piece of legislation governing packaging and packaging waste in Europe. The twin objectives of the Directive are to continuously improve the environmental performance of packaging and to facilitate the correct functioning of the EU Internal Market, thereby protecting the free circulation of packaged goods in all member states. Avoiding obstacles to trade and distortions of competition are crucial to the packaging supply chain members of EUROPEN that distribute goods at national, European and global level.

The Directive sets out recovery and recycling targets and deadlines for EU Member States and obliges them to address the recovery and recycling of used packaging. It also contains The Essential Requirements for Packaging (27.46KB) that aim to reduce packaging waste and to put forth design requirements that cater to a wide range of packaging materials and packaged goods. Packaging that meets these requirements is guaranteed free circulation in the European Economic Area. EUROPEN provides guidance for its members and other stakeholders on how to comply with the Essential Requirements (see “Understanding the CEN standards on packaging and the environment” and “Essential Requirements for Packaging in Europe: A Practical Guide to using the CEN Standards” available for purchase; free for members).  

Since it is a Directive, Member States must pass national laws to implement the EU legislation depending on the specific characteristics of that market. EUROPEN’s Guide to European and National Legislation on Packaging and the Environment provides a country-by-country overview of key laws relating to packaging and the environment (available for purchase; free for members).

The Directive was adopted in 1994 and is reviewed every 10 years. The most recent review is in 2015. EUROPEN supports legislation that is transparent, effective and in proportion to the impacts of packaging and packaging waste, which thus allows our members maximum scope to innovate, compete and operate in a resource efficient way. We are closely following developments at EU and national level and presenting the views of the packaging supply chain to relevant authorities and other stakeholders. EUROPEN’s contribution to the EU consultation on the Review of the European Waste Management Targets can be found here: EUROPEN replies to the Waste Targets Review Consultation (913.07KB)

See below for EUROPEN’s policy updates, publications, position papers and latest news.  EUROPEN Members may log in to the members area for additional information here.