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.