Legal basis

Circular Economy and Waste Management

“EU action plan for the Circular Economy” describes the “Circular Economy” as an economy wherein the value of products, materials and resources is maintained for as long as possible, and the generation of waste shall be minimised. The EU’s Circular Economy Package (CEP) includes a set of amended waste directives, was approved by the EU institutions in July 2018.

The new rules establish legally binding targets for waste recycling and the reduction of landfilling with fixed deadlines. These targets will increase the share of municipal waste and packaging waste which is recycled, with specific targets for the recycling of materials used in packaging. The rules also include targets for reducing the amount of municipal waste which is landfilled.

For EXPRA, the two key pieces of waste legislation are the amended Waste Framework Directive and the amended Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive. You can find additional information about them below.

Waste Framework Directive: Directive (EU) 2018/851 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 2018 amending Directive 2008/98/ECon waste.

The adopted in 2018  Directive (EU) 2018/851 requires Member States to improve their waste management systems into the management of sustainable material, to improve the efficiency of resource use, and to ensure that waste is valued as a resource. The Directive sets the following targets for the preparing for reuse and recycling of municipal waste

   by 2025  by 2030  by 2035
Municipal waste    55%  60%  65%

Member states will have to set up, by 1 January 2025, separate collection for textiles and for hazardous waste from households. In addition, they have to ensure that by 31 December 2023, bio-waste is either collected separately or recycled at source (e. g. home composting). This is in addition to the separate collection which already exists for paper and cardboard, glass, metals and plastic.

The Directive states that Extended producer responsibility schemes form an essential part of efficient waste management and sets minimum operating requirements for such extended producer responsibility schemes.

Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive

Directive (EU) 2018/852 amends Directive 94/62/EC (which sets out the EU’s rules on managing packaging and packaging waste) and contains updated measures designed to:

  • prevent the production of packaging waste, and
  • promote the reuse, recycling and other forms of recovering of packaging waste, instead of its final disposal, thus contributing to the transition towards a circular economy*.

The Directive as amended covers all packaging placed on the European market and all packaging waste, whether it is used or released at industrial, commercial, office, shop, service, household or any other level, regardless of the material used.

EU countries must take measures, such as national programmes, incentives through extended producer responsibility schemes and other economic instruments, to prevent the generation of packaging waste and to minimise the environmental impact of packaging.

EU countries must also take the necessary measures to meet certain recycling targets which vary depending on a packaging material and for this purpose apply the new calculation rules.


By 31 December 2025, at least 65% by weight of all packaging must be recycled and by 31 December 2030, at least 70% of packaging must be recycled.

The recycling targets for each material are:

MaterialRecycling target by 31 December 2025Recycling target by 31 December 2030
Paper and cardboard75%85%
Ferrous metals70%80%

Essential requirements

EU countries must ensure that the packaging placed on the market meets the essential requirements contained in Annex II of the directive:

  • to limit the weight and volume of packaging to a minimum in order to meet the required level of safety, hygiene and acceptability for consumers;
  • to reduce the content of hazardous substances and materials in the packaging material and its components;
  • to design reusable or recoverable packaging.

Biodegradable packaging: oxo-degradable* plastic packaging must not be considered as biodegradable.

The European Commission is currently examining how to reinforce the essential requirements with the view to improving packaging design for reuse and promoting high-quality recycling, as well as strengthening the enforcement of the essential requirements.

Packaging recovery systems

EU countries should ensure that systems are set up to provide for the return and/or collection of used packaging and/or packaging waste, as well as the reuse or recovery including recycling of the packaging and/or packaging waste collected.

Producer responsibility

By 2025, EU countries should ensure that producer responsibility schemes* are established for all packaging. Producer responsibility schemes provide for the return and/or collection of used packaging and/or packaging waste and its channelling to the most appropriate waste management option, as well as for reuse or recycling of the collected packaging and packaging waste. These schemes will need to comply with some minimum requirements established under the Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC). The schemes should help incentivise packaging that is designed, produced and commercialised in a way that allows its reuse or recovery and that has minimal impact on the environment.