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Europe’s Packaging Industry Organization
EU Directive on Packaging and Packaging Waste
CEN Packaging Standards
Packaging Guiding Principles
Recovery of Used Packaging
EUROPEN Publications

Environment, Packaging Chain, EU Directives CEN Packaging Standards, Packaging Guiding Principles, National and European Environmental Legislations, Interlocking Systems for the Collection and Recovery of Used Packaging

The European Organization for Packaging and the Environment (EUROPEN) is an industry and trade organization open to any company with an economic interest in packaging and packaged products. It presents the opinion of its members on issues related to packaging and the environment.

Successful packaging policies will be those which are environmentally, economically and scientifically sound, as well as socially and politically acceptable. Members of EUROPEN are identified as companies which support a united industry and trade organization, dedicated to satisfactorily resolving the environmental challenges facing the packaging chain in an active and co-operative manner without favouring any specific packaging material or system.

EUROPEN is recognised as “The Voice of Industry for Packaging and the Environment”, the only pan-European organization dedicated exclusively to this subject.  Membership is open to all economic operators in the packaging chain:

  • producers of every material used for packaging;
  • packaging designers;
  • manufacturers of packaging;
  • packaging users, irrespective of product, sales and distribution method;
  • companies engaged in the distributive and retail trade;
  • national cross-sectorial industry groups with similar objectives.

Membership of EUROPEN provides companies with:

  • a cost-effective means of securing timely information about developments in environmental policy affecting packaging and packaged products with financial and practical impacts;
  • early warning of all packaging and environment developments;
  • detailed status reports on packaging laws and regulations;
  • essential information for corporate strategic planning;
  • participation in members' forums covering topical issues;
  • an opportunity to support EUROPEN's activity to promote a balanced view of the use, benefits and environmental aspects of all types of packaging;
  • a continuous and authoritative pan-European perspective on current developments and industry responses to packaging and environment issues;
  • participation in setting the agenda for industry initiatives, positions and responses which help shape policy and legislation involving the European institutions and national governments and lobbying to support these positions;
  • tangible support to the campaign to promote a better understanding of the role of packaging in society; and
  • access to cross-sectoral networking with customers, suppliers and other stakeholders in securing the free movement of packaging and packaged products in Europe and beyond.

EUROPEN is controlled by the Council of Members which elects an Executive Committee which in turn appoints a managing director. Working groups, drawn both from members and outside resources as necessary, are established to deal with specific subjects.

The Council, where all members are represented, meets three times per year and adopts an annual activity plan. The Executive Committee and work groups meet as often as required. EUROPEN finances its activity from membership fees set annually by the Council of Members for the following year`s budget.

EUROPEN is a non-profit association registered in Belgium with headquarters in Brussels. EUROPEN`s statutes specifically prohibit it from engaging in any activity which would render it or any of its members in breach of any competition laws in force in the European Union or under any national laws of any of the members. A copy of the statutes is available on request.

Want to know more? See EUROPEN's Vision of Packaging's Contribution to Sustainable Development, as well as our Mission and Strategy.

If you want to talk to us about membership of EUROPEN, please contact Julian Carroll.


The aim of achieving a single market for packaged products in the European Union and for the free movement of goods in a global marketplace is frequently threatened by packaging regulations which restrict or prevent market access.

The issue for industry and trade is to ensure that any measures adopted will properly meet both the environmental and economic needs of all stakeholders.  Despite the adoption of the EU Directive on Packaging and Packaging Waste (94/62/EC) in 1994, many issues involving interpretation, implementation, monitoring results and compliance continuously arise to the present day.

In December 2006, the European Commission published a report on the impact and implementation of the Directive which concludes that the Directive has largely achieved its environmental objective, but that “there is evidence (particularly in the beverage sector) that the Directive has not yet fully achieved its internal market objective”.

In addition to the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive, other EU policies affect packaging. EU plans for legislation are often complemented and complicated by national regulations, giving rise to risks of conflict. We identify many of the issues arising from packaging legislation and provide information and opinions about them.

  • ‘Thematic Strategies’ on waste prevention and recycling / sustainable use of natural resources
  • Sustainable consumption and production
  • Economic instruments in packaging and packaging waste policy
  • REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and restriction of Chemicals)—the EU’s new chemicals policy
  • Beverage container deposits
  • Quotas for refillable packaging
  • Product specific targets in packaging legislation
  • Packaging marking, material identification and conformity assessment procedures
  • Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) use and misuse in public policy decisions on packaging and packaging waste management
  • CEN packaging and environment standards
  • Waste management hierarchy
  • Prevention

EUROPEN, the European Organization for Packaging and the Environment, on 22 February, 2005, welcomed EU publication of references to six CEN Packaging Standards as the final step of a more than 10-year-long process since adoption of the EU Directive on Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (94/62/EC) in 1994. The references appeared in the Official Journal of the European Union on 19 February, 2005.

For packaging producers and packaged goods industries, this step has eliminated lingering legal uncertainty over whether or not packaging entering the EU market is in conformity with the Essential Requirements laid out in the Directive. Since January 1998 only packaging which complies with all Essential Requirements defined in the Directive may legally be placed into the EU market.

The standards cover requirements specific to the manufacturing and composition of packaging, the reuse of packaging and the recovery methods of recycling, energy recovery and composting. The sixth standard, described as ``the umbrella standard``, explains the management systems approach to be used in the application of the other five.

The management systems approach adopted in the standards provides industry with a flexible method of demonstrating conformity but presents some challenges for regulatory authorities in interpreting them. To help industry and public authorities, EUROPEN has published a benchmark guide to use of the standards, “Essential Requirements for Packaging in Europe: A Practical Guide to the CEN Standards”. Alongside the EUROPEN guide other national and regional initiatives for guidance exist such as the innovative ``Optipak`` development from the Nordic countries and guidance notes published by authorities in France and the UK.

EUROPEN is established and supported by industry to promote the benefits of packaging and the adoption of ecologically and economically sensible national and European environmental legislation, policies and best practices concerning the environmental impact of packaging.

  • Good packaging benefits society provided sound policies are adopted and used packaging is recovered using a flexible choice of methods with responsibility being shared.
  • Appropriate packaging helps prevent or reduce product waste and facilitates centralized processing and distribution of products. Proper packaging assures the availability, in appropriate quantity, of safe, hygienic and undamaged goods for all sectors of society in order to maintain accepted living standards. Correct design and use of packaging protects resources and contributes to the reduction of emissions arising from the transportation of goods.
  • Packaging choices and policies need to be guided by results from systematic scientific studies like Life Cycle Analysis. Such methods however must be used carefully and the results responsibly interpreted. It must also be made clear that consumers ultimately pay the cost of environmental change.
  • Used packaging is a valuable resources which should not be mis-managed.

  • EUROPEN strives to promote adoption of the best available policies and practices in order to achieve the recovery of used packaging.
  • Differences in local conditions will require various combinations of recovery methods to achieve best results. The choice of methods and the establishment of targets must be based on practical experience and scientific knowledge.
  • Responsibility for the recovery of used packaging falls on consumers, local and national government and all members of the packaging chain. Valid solutions therefore need to include all these parties working in unison to develop interlocking systems for the collection and recovery of used packaging. Such systems will in turn be integrated with other waste stream management systems as they develop.

All of our publications are available for purchase or free download from our website,  The tables of contents of publications for sale can also be downloaded for free.  A selection of our publications is listed below:

European and National Legislation on Packaging and the Environment—Revised edition October 2007, 96 pages, Euro 125 (electronic version) / Euro 135 (hard copy)

Essential Requirements for Packaging in Europe: A Practical Guide to Using the CEN Standards—Revised edition October 2005, 70 pages, Euro 150 (electronic version) / Euro 160 (hard copy)

Understanding the CEN Standards on Packaging and the Environment: Some Questions and Answers—Revised edition February 2006, 24 pages, Free. (Available in English, French and Dutch).

Economic Instruments in Packaging and Packaging Waste Policy—Revised edition June 2007, 52 pages, Euro 20 (electronic version) / Euro 25 (hard copy)

The Impact of REACH on the Packaging Supply Chain, December 2007, 13 pages, Euro 25 (electronic version only)

Life Cycle Assessment: Guidance for packaging chain companies, 5 pages, September 2001, Free.

Reuse Quotas and Product Specific Targets for Packaging, Revised edition May 2005, 3 pages, Free.

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