Upcoming Trends in Fmcg Packaging Legislation

May 2023

Legislative action is proving necessary to move packaging in a more sustainable direction, leading governments across the world to implement a wide variety of new laws aimed at reducing packaging waste and promoting a circular economy. This includes EPR laws, deposit systems, new taxes, bans on single-use products, and chemical regulations. These will continue to become more common and stricter in the coming years and few areas of fmcg will find themselves unaffected.

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This report comes in PPT.

Key Findings

Legislation will be necessary to make consumer packaging fully sustainable

While consumer interest in sustainable packaging is growing, it will not in itself be enough to move the packaging industry in a more sustainable direction within the timeframe needed. Legislation will be required to do that. This fact means that as external environmental pressures grow, so too will the scale of packaging regulation.

Plastics are the target of the vast majority of packaging legislation

The majority of packaging regulation is aimed at curbing plastic waste, particularly in single-use formats. How exactly plastics are targeted varies though, and the world has seen a mix of bans, taxes, deposit bills, and incentives to use recycled materials.

Extended producer responsibility (EPR) provides principles but not implementation details

EPR laws are proliferating across the world. Their chief advantage though, flexibility, also makes their impact very different in different areas. In the coming years, EPR will be a guiding principle of waste management, onto which more detailed legislation, like deposit schemes, will be placed.

Chemical regulations will increasingly limit whole classes of suspect chemicals

Separate from action taken with sustainability in mind, chemicals like PFAS, BPA, and phthalates are under increasing regulatory pressure, which is unlikely to let up. Bans on these chemicals will be more common in the coming years, making this the most important aspect of regulation not related directly to sustainability goals. This will most affect plastics although other pack types like cans will also see some effect.

The UN plastics treaty will be decisive for the future directions of the industry

The projected 2024 treaty currently being negotiated on plastics usage has potential to be the most impactful packaging legislation ever produced if national mandates and/or caps on plastics production are agreed on. Even if a weaker treaty is adopted, it will set the direction for national and industry goals on packaging production for years to come.


Key findings
Regulation will be decisive in determining the future of packaging
Packaging has been an especially close target of regulatory pressure
Food and beverages will be at the forefront of the shift in global packaging
Major areas of packaging legislation to keep an eye on
The EU seeks to be the global pacesetter for sustainability regulation
The long-term viability of chemical recycling will shape the future of the industry
The UN attempts to rein in the growth of plastics
The historical precedent: Lessons from the Montreal Protocol
What does the Montreal Protocol mean for the future of plastics?
The Osaka Blue Ocean Vision and the role of non-binding international agreements
The EU’s packaging waste directive aims to set an example for the world
PPWR: The impact by packaging type and industry concerns
Extended producer responsibility is the guiding motivation behind much of new legislation
EPR laws have a wide global reach and continuously appear in new areas
California creates the world’s largest subnational EPR system
DRS systems are encountering a surge in popularity
The UK’s new system highlights the challenges in creating DRS schemes
Reuseables and returnables are more likely to be encouraged than required
Chile aims to shift away from single-use packaging
France tries to encourage reuseable packaging in foodservice
New taxes in Spain aim to shift behaviour in a cost-of-living crisis
Several classes of chemicals are under increasingly tight regulatory pressure
BPA concern starts to decline but regulators remain active
The battle against “forever chemicals” picks up
Phthalates are a lagging concern now, but they will grow in importance
Taco Bell and the move to healthier packaging
The key debates that will shape upcoming legislation


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