The reuse of packaging is, according to Directive 94/62/EC on packaging and packaging waste, one of the priority instruments which should be used in order to prevent the generation of packaging waste.
During the last years, many reuse systems have been replaced by the growing use of throw-away packaging (particularly plastic bottles and composite packaging), which in turn greatly contribute to the overall generation of packaging waste and which are difficult to recycle. Packaging waste today accounts for about 20% of the weight and 40% of the volume of municipal waste.
In order to get an overview of the situation concerning the reuse of sales packaging (primary packaging) in the EU, DG XI has funded a study entitled 'reuse of primary packaging'. This study focuses on a number of EU countries and thoroughly describes the present situation in terms of quantities of reusable primary packaging put on the market, types of reusable packaging and reuse schemes available, costs and constraints which hamper the further development of the remaining reuse systems.
A number of suggestions which could be used in order to promote reuse of packaging are included.