Packaging & the Environment


The principle of sustainability

Sustainable development addresses economic, environmental and social objectives. The principle of sustainability refers to a development that meets the needs of present generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs.

As well as complying with European and national legal requirements for packaging, EUROPEN members are committed to developing and using packaging which contributes to the achievement of the EU Sustainable Development Strategy and of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.    In particular, the packaging supply chain has a key role in in achieving sustainable production and consumption (goal number 12 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals) complemented by the right legislative framework in Europe. 

On 11 December 2019, the European Commission published its new roadmap for making the EU's economy sustainable: the European Green Deal. EUROPEN welcomes the Commission’s Green Deal as the new growth strategy for Europe, aimed at transforming the EU into a fair, prosperous, resource-efficient and competitive economy where there are no net emissions of greenhouse gases in 2050.

How can packaging contribute to sustainability?

EUROPEN’s work in this area recognises the essential contribution to sustainable production and consumption that packaging makes by helping reduce product waste and protect resources, while acknowledging that packaging consumes resources along all stages of the supply chain.

Such packaging should:

  • be designed holistically with the product in order to optimise overall environmental performance
  • be made from responsibly sourced materials
  • be designed to be effective and safe throughout its life cycle, to protect the product
  • meet market criteria for performance and cost
  • meet consumer choice and expectations
  • be recycled or recovered efficiently after use

EUROPEN also contributed to the ‘Global Packaging Project’ led by the Consumer Goods Forum in 2011. Read more in their Protocol on Packaging and Sustainability. The aim of the Protocol is to help companies reduce the environmental impact of their packaging by providing a common language to address a range of business questions about packaging sustainability, either within a company or between business partners. That common language consists of a framework and a measurement system.

Packaging across the whole Life Cycle

A packaged product will go through many stages in its life-cycle, and the packaging must meet critical requirements and constraints at each stage. Well-designed packaging will meet the requirements of the product while minimising the economic and environmental impacts of both the product and its package.
















The role and responsibility of the packaging supply chain

Producer responsibility is the producer's part of a shared responsibility for the appropriate waste management of their used packaging. The principle of shared responsibility establishes that all participants in a supply chain, from packaging design through production to consumption, accept responsibility for the environmental impacts occurring in their specific part of the chain. The EU’s Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive states that "the development and implementation of the measures provided for in this Directive should involve and require the close cooperation of all the partners, where appropriate, within a spirit of shared responsibility". EUROPEN’s diverse membership, representing the whole packaging supply chain, reflects this spirit.

EUROPEN members are actively engaged in making our industry sustainable through continuous innovation, with their own activities as well as by voluntary industry commitments. EUROPEN corporate members have made significant commitment towards environmental improvements that go beyond legislative targets such as on recycled content, recyclability, resource efficiency/ packaging optimisation and materials sourcing. The Members list includes each company’s Sustainability and/or Corporate Social Responsibility website.