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The European Directive on Packaging and Packaging waste

Environmental concerns led the European Commission to establish a set of rules for waste management in the European packaging industry. The reduction of landfill, and parallel increase in re-use, recycling, and incineration, were the prime aims of the Packaging Waste Directive (94/62/EC). Individual EU member states were required to implement it by 2001, but even today, most member states are not ready.

Difficulty arises with materials such as release liner. Since it is technically not applied to the package, does a release liner constitute packaging waste or not?

Most of Europe classifies release liner as an integral part of a self-adhesive label stock laminate and therefore “packaging waste.” This has not been the case in the U.K., but recent U.K. government and industry discussions point to a change to the more general European view that release liners are an intrinsic part of packaging.

Although industry associations including FINAT and EPSMA lobby strongly for an appropriate waste management platform, no solution has presented itself so far.

Whatever the final solution, it will have an indelible impact on the packaging industry and on supply side characteristics throughout the value chain — not just in Europe but eventually elsewhere. Environmental issues certainly are not going to disappear from anyone's agenda.

AWA Alexander Watson Assoc. is a leading international market research consultant company for the converting and packaging industries.

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