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Spain | The Government approves the Royal Decree on Packaging and Packaging Waste to advance the implementation of the circular economy

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12/27/2022 - The text reviews in depth the current regulations, in force for more than 20 years, establishing objectives and specific measures for packers, distribution, holders and administrations

The extended producer responsibility regime is developed so that the affected producers assume the total cost of managing this waste

Among the main innovations are measures aimed at preventing waste, promoting the sale of food in bulk, the increase in reusable packaging and the promotion of recycling and marking of products.

The Council of Ministers, at the request of the Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge (MITECO), has approved the Royal Decree on Packaging and Packaging Wastea comprehensive review of Spanish regulations on this matter aligned with the objectives of the Union European Union and which will make it possible to advance in the implementation of the circular economy and achieve the new packaging recycling targets for 2025 and 2030.

In addition to these objectives, this new royal decree seeks to transpose and apply the EU Directive on single-use plastic packaging; promote prevention in the production of packaging waste and its reuse and achieve the objectives of separate collection of single-use plastic bottles established in the Law on Waste and Contaminated Soils for a Circular Economy and confirm its compliance, with a view to the establishment of the deposit, return and return (SDDR) system.

Likewise, the extended producer responsibility regime is also developed for all packaging and packaging waste, so that the affected producers assume the total cost of managing this waste, taking into account that the financing provided by the producers must be made with circular economy criteria.  

At the same time, mechanisms will be established to increase transparency in the information on packaging and packaging waste, and adequate monitoring and control of the obligations on placing products on the market and managing their waste by the producers of products and industry organizations.

To this end, the packaging section is created in the Product Producers Registry, in which all producers must register and to which they must annually submit information on the placing on the market of packaging, the management of their waste and the financial management of the systems.

During its processing, the royal decree has received observations from the sectors and ministerial departments involved after being submitted to public information, which have been attended to in a large percentage and has obtained a favorable opinion from the Council of State. Thus, the document is aligned with community regulations on prevention and reuse and is fully consistent with the degree of ambition of the community regulation on the matter. In the same way, this regulatory package is part of the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan and with its approval, milestone 178 of the same is fully complied with.


The main novelties presented in the final text of the royal decree include measures aimed at preventing waste. Thus, it establishes national objectives of a guiding nature, which are not applicable by sector or to a specific type of packaged product. Regarding the quantitative reduction objectives, they coincide with those established in the Law on Waste and Contaminated Soils for a Circular Economy, applied to this flow of packaging, and sets a target for 2030 of a 20% reduction for plastic bottles of a only use relative to 2022 levels.


For their part, food retailers must adopt the necessary measures to present in bulk those fresh fruits and vegetables that are sold whole. This obligation will not apply to fruit and vegetables packaged in batches of 1.5 kilograms or more, nor to fruit and vegetables that are packaged under a protected or registered variety or have an indication of differentiated quality or organic farming, as well as well as fruits and vegetables that present a risk of deterioration or shrinkage when sold in bulk, which will be determined by order of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, in coordination with the Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge and the Spanish Agency for Food Safety and Nutrition,

Once this list is published, businesses will have a period of six months to adapt the sale of fruit and vegetables that do not fall under these assumptions.

To promote the sale of food in bulk, especially in those cases in which the packaging does not provide any added value to the product, food retailers whose surface area is equal to or greater than 400 square meters will allocate at least 20% of their area of sales to the offer of products presented without primary packaging, including the sale in bulk or through reusable packaging.


Along these lines, measures have also been included to encourage an increase in the proportion of reusable packaging marketed and packaging reuse systems in an environmentally friendly manner and in accordance with the EU Treaty, without compromising the hygiene of food or consumer safety.

Thus, food retailers that sell bulk food and beverages must accept the use of reusable containers by consumers, who will be responsible for their conditioning and cleaning. These containers may be rejected by the merchant if they are obviously dirty or are not suitable, being exempt from responsibility for food safety problems that may arise from the use of containers provided by consumers.

The reuse of beverage containers in the domestic channel will imply cost savings, derived on the one hand from the lower manufacturing of single-use containers, and on the other from the disappearance of the costs of managing waste whose generation has been avoided .


In accordance with the European directive, the royal decree will also promote the use of materials obtained from recycled packaging waste. In this sense, it establishes recommended percentages of recycled plastic in packaging for 2025 and 2030, which will be mandatory, by community mandate, in the case of single-use plastic bottles.

On the other hand, the standard provides for marking obligations as of January 1, 2025, an approach that MITECO transferred to packers in 2021 to facilitate their voluntary adaptation. It should be noted that the symbology of the marking is at the discretion of the producer. On the other hand, the marking of containers with the words "environmentally friendly" or any other equivalent that may lead to their abandonment in the environment is prohibited.


Regarding the Extended Producer Responsibility (RAP), this royal decree establishes the extension of the obligations to producers who put commercial and industrial packaging on the market, until now exempted according to the Packaging and Packaging Waste Law. In addition, it will imply different adaptations for the collective systems of the RAP (SCRAP) of domestic containers constituted to date.

Specifically, in cases of collective compliance with the obligations of the producer, the contribution must be modulated for each type of similar packaging, taking into account the nature and quantity of material used in its manufacture, its durability, that it can be repaired, reused and recycling, their superfluity, the amount of recycled materials they contain, the presence of hazardous substances or other factors that affect the ease of reuse, the recycling of packaging waste or the incorporation of recycled materials, among others. And a bonus must be established in the financial contributions to be paid by the producers when the product meets efficiency criteria, or a penalty when the product fails to meet these criteria.

Likewise, the regulation provides that the SCRAP in the field of domestic packaging will finance, in addition to the management costs of the separately collected packaging, the costs derived from the packaging waste recovered from the rest fraction, from the inorganic fraction of the humid- dry (when the exception provided for in Law 7/2022, of April 8 does not apply) and the cleaning of public roads, green areas, recreational areas and beaches.

SOURCE: (automatically translated from Spanish)

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