Packaging & the Environment


The principle of sustainability

Sustainable development addresses economic, environmental and social objectives. 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 European Union's Sustainable Development Strategy and in particular the Commission’s Sustainable Consumption and Production Action Plan.

This is within the context of the overall EU 2020 strategy which the EU defines as delivering growth that is: smart, through more effective investments in education, research and innovation; sustainable, thanks to a decisive move towards a low-carbon economy; and inclusive, with a strong emphasis on job creation and poverty reduction. The strategy is focused on five ambitious goals in the areas of employment, innovation, education, poverty reduction and climate/energy.

How can packaging contribute to sustainability?

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’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.

You can read our ‘Green Paper’ on Packaging and Sustainability here:

 EUROPEN Green Paper 2011 (323.26KB)

EUROPEN also contributed to the ‘Global Packaging Project’ led by the Consumer Goods Forum in 2011, and you can 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, through their own activities and voluntary industry commitments. The Members list includes each company’s Sustainability and/or CSR site.