NWPCA Achieves Exemption for Wooden Pallets in New EU Packaging Regulation

The National Wooden Pallet & Container Association (NWPCA) has heralded a significant victory for wooden pallet manufacturers globally, following the conclusion of negotiations over the European Union’s (EU) latest Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR). This triumph comes after intensive advocacy by the NWPCA, which has successfully secured an exemption from the regulation’s reuse requirements for wooden pallets transported into and out of the EU under load.

The PPWR represents the EU’s ambitious efforts to address the increasing challenge of packaging waste, setting forth comprehensive rules aimed at encouraging recycling and reuse of packaging materials across the bloc. While the NWPCA supports the regulation’s goals to minimize waste and promote recycling, given wood’s nature as a sustainable and fully recyclable material, the association raised concerns about the practical implications of enforcing reuse over recyclability, particularly for the wooden pallet industry.

Facing potential challenges for manufacturers and the broader supply chain, the NWPCA engaged in extensive discussions with key EU stakeholders, including the European Commission, the European Parliament, and Council member states. The association’s advocacy focused on the logistical impracticalities and economic burdens of a reuse system for imported pallets, arguing for an exemption that would relieve wooden pallets entering and leaving the EU under load from these requirements.

Jason Ortega, NWPCA’s Vice President of Public Affairs, emphasized the exemption as a pivotal win, noting that it would alleviate significant operational and financial pressures on companies involved in shipping goods to or from the EU on pallets. He highlighted the wooden pallet’s role as a fundamental component of the global supply chain, praised for its high recovery and recycling rates, particularly in the United States, where they are recycled at a rate of 95%.

The success of the NWPCA’s efforts is marked by the inclusion of specific language exempting wooden pallets “within the territory of the Union” from the reuse requirements in the PPWR’s final text. This achievement is a result of the NWPCA’s collaborative efforts with international partners, including the Global Wood Packaging Forum, the Canadian Wood Pallet & Container Association, the UK Timber Packaging and Pallet Confederation, and governmental allies in Canada and the United States.

With the anticipated smooth adoption of the negotiated text by EU institutions, the NWPCA celebrates this milestone as a testament to the effectiveness of its advocacy and the importance of collaboration in achieving sustainable outcomes for the transport packaging sector. This exemption not only safeguards the wooden pallet industry’s future but also underscores the NWPCA’s commitment to promoting environmentally friendly solutions within the global supply chain.

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