CH vs. EU for plastic packaging regulations

Let’s compare the EU Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR) with the Swiss system for managing packaging waste!

On 24th October 2023, the European Parliament’s Environment Committee took a crucial decision by voting in favour of the proposed amendments to the EU Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR). This decision marked an important step in the overhaul of Europe’s approach to packaging waste management. Earlier, in Switzerland, the stage had been set for this crucial development with the Dobler motion. This key motion for more efficient management of packaging waste in Switzerland has been inviting those involved in waste recycling1 to anticipate and debate the issue of plastic wastes for several months now. Together, these two initiatives underline the global urgency of tackling the environmental impact of packaging waste and pave the way for a closer examination of strategies, challenges and potential solutions in pursuit of a more sustainable future.

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1. Legislative Framework:

EU PPWR: The EU PPWR is a comprehensive regulation that applies to all EU member states. It sets overarching standards and targets while allowing flexibility for member states to implement specific measures.

Swiss System: Switzerland does not have a single, EU-style regulation for packaging waste. Instead, it has a decentralized system with regulations varying between its 26 cantons. Each canton can have its own rules and regulations related to waste management, including packaging.


2. Targets and Reporting:

EU PPWR: The EU sets specific recycling and recovery targets for packaging materials across all member states. Reporting and data collection are standardized to monitor progress toward these targets.

Swiss System: Switzerland lacks uniform national targets for packaging waste recycling and recovery. Cantonal regulations may vary in terms of recycling goals and reporting requirements.

3. Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR):

EU PPWR: The EU PPWR places the responsibility on producers, importers, and distributors of packaged products to manage packaging waste. They contribute to the costs of collection and recycling.

Swiss System: Switzerland also adopts an EPR approach, but its implementation varies by canton. Different cantons have their own EPR systems and regulations.

4. Coordination and Industry Involvement:

EU PPWR: The EU fosters coordination among member states through a common framework. Industry stakeholders collaborate to meet targets and implement waste management systems.

Swiss System: In Switzerland, industry initiatives like the Recypac association, co-founded by companies like Nestlé, Migros, and Coop, aim to coordinate the recycling of plastic packaging. However, not all cantons may participate in such initiatives, and there may be differing opinions on their effectiveness.

5. Labeling and Consumer Information:

EU PPWR: The EU mandates labeling and information on packaging materials to guide consumers and facilitate recycling. These requirements are standardized across member states.

Swiss System: Switzerland may have its own labeling and information requirements.

6. Circular Economy Goals:

EU PPWR: The EU’s approach aligns with broader circular economy goals and strategies, aiming to minimize waste and promote sustainability.

Swiss System: Switzerland is also adopting an EPR approach, and this approach is uniform for PET drinks bottles, for example. For the rest of the plastic packaging waste, implementation varies from canton to canton. Different cantons have their own EPR systems and regulations.

In summary, the EU PPWR is a centralized and harmonized regulation that sets uniform recycling and recovery targets and places extended producer responsibility on businesses. In contrast, Switzerland’s system is decentralized, with cantons having more autonomy in waste management regulations. While Switzerland also promotes recycling and sustainability, the lack of a single national framework can result in regional variations and challenges in achieving consistency and coordination across the country. The effectiveness of industry initiatives such as Sammelsack or Leo Recycle can vary from one canton to another, and give rise to different opinions in Switzerland.

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