The Direction to Prioritize Reuse over Recycling for Packaging is a new Regulatory Requirement for European Union (EU) Member States. Countries must include reuse schemes in their producer responsibility requirements for packaging from all sectors, and track reuse packaging data. 

The EU Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (PPWD), amended in 2018, has a new important section on Reuse. The amended PPWD now outlines strategic direction for Member States to align with the priorities of the waste hierarchy by placing reuse as more important than recycling and more importantly – applies to all sources of packaging, including residential, as well as Industrial, Commercial, and Institutional (ICI) sources. 

“Member States shall take measures to encourage the increase in the share of reusable packaging placed on the market and of systems to reuse packaging in an environmentally sound manner, without compromising food hygiene or the safety of consumers. Such measures may include: use of deposit-return schemes; setting of qualitative or quantitative targets; use of economic incentives; and/or setting up of a minimum percentage of reusable packaging placed on the market every year for each packaging stream. PPWD, Article 5(1)” 

EU rules under the PPWD include all categories of packaging placed on the European market, from all sectors. EU Countries must find a way to track and calculate the percentage share of reusable packaging placed on the market within their country on an annual basis. This data is reported to the EU. By December 2024, the Commission will examine data on reusable packaging

provided by Member States and decide if legislative targets are feasible and/or required. The EU Commission is currently assessing options to review the PPWD with a view to improving reuse and contribute to reaching objectives of the new circular economy action plan (CEAP) to ensure that “all packaging on the EU market is reusable or recyclable in an economically viable way by 2030” and it will also contribute to the objective of the Plastics Strategy, in which the Commission committed to ensure that by 2030 all plastics packaging placed on the market can be reused or recycled in a cost-effective manner”.   The Commission is also evaluating possible measures to reduce (over) packaging and packaging waste, promote the uptake of recycled content in packaging, and set minimum mandatory green public procurement criteria and targets for packaging.


The European Union (EU) project on Reducing Plastic Waste in Canada