Disposal of waste and recycling of plastic packaging is a high priority for the World. Both Europe and America, using significant quantity and applications of packaging have regulations for packaging waste. These regulations differ significantly in the EU and USA, resulting in different ways of packaging. Europe recycles more of total packaging compared to USA. Overall USA recycles about 40% while Europe recycles about 55% of the total packaging. Europe is far ahead of recycling plastic packaging at 25% compared to about 10% in USA .
A study of 2007 indicates that the consumers of both economies of Europe & USA have the same concerns. They are:
1. Consumers want more information about nutrition that is easy to assimilate quickly, in terms of either gradated levels (high, medium or low) of key positive and negative nutrients, or percentages of daily requirements.
2. The ageing of packaging has a special concern in Europe because the shorter distribution distances (relative to America ) mean a greater prevalence of refrigerated foods, which are especially prone to temperature abuse.
3. 57% of older consumers are liable to switch products solely based on inconvenient packaging. Ease of opening and handling, appropriate portioning and legibility of all elements of packaging (including date codes) are all important factors.
Paradoxically, the 27-member heterogeneous organization, the European Union (EU) has adopted a much more unified and monolithic approach to packaging issues than USA . The EU that comprises Europe's most prosperous nations, adopted in 1994, a directive that continues to guide the collection and disposal of post-consumer packaging.
The 1994 EU Directive had two major goals - reducing the environmental impact of post-consumer packaging and harmonizing packaging regulations among EU member nations, which fit in with the EU's general mission of making trade and travel across Europe easier. The Directive gave member states the mandate to establish systems to collect used packaging and reuse or recycle as much of it as possible. Most of them incorporated the approach of the Green Dot system in Germany. The Green Dot system, named for the logo that appeared on compliant packaging, had as its backbone the principle of “producer pays”—in other words, it's the responsibility of the company that puts a package into the market to make sure it's disposed of in an environmentally benign manner. In most cases, the producer pays a fee to have packaging collected and, as far as possible, reused or recycled. Some countries have a central authority that coordinates this collection; others use industry-sponsored organizations, and still others leave it up to private enterprise (usually coordinated by a government agency). The common element is that most EU nations have a uniform system for collecting discarded household packaging. One of the major obstacles to the smooth functioning of the European regulatory system has been a tendency of individual countries to impose regulations that favour their own industries. One of the most notorious was an attempt by Germany to mandate that 80% of its retail beer had to be bottled in refillable containers. The United Kingdom is the most prominent exception. The UK determined that it could meet EU goals for recycling and reuse without worrying about primary packaging; instead, it concentrated on reducing and collecting secondary and tertiary or transport packaging. As a result, the UK has no uniform, nationwide system for collecting household packaging. Instead, the UK uses a system called Producer Responsibility Notes (PRNs). These are tradable permits, somewhat similar to promissory notes, that packagers are issued in proportion to the amount and type of packaging they have put into the market. The packagers then pay someone else to take the PRNs off their hands—in other words, to take the responsibility of recycling or reusing all or most of the packaging. The “someone else” may be a disposal firm, or it may be a broker who will then turn around and try to pay a disposal firm to take over the PRN for less money than the broker accepted from the original packager.
In the US, the federal government does not play any role. Only state and local governments decide about packaging waste disposal regulations.
The most stringent consumer packaging regulations in the US are mandatory deposit laws, which are in place in 10 states. Under those systems, of course, it is the consumer who actually pays. The deposit system in California comes closest to European producer-pays systems. In California, consumer-goods manufacturers have to pay recycling fees to the state Department of Conservation. These fees are roughly based on the cost of recycling minus the value of the collected material. Retailers who accept used packaging and waste haulers who pick it up curbside are eligible for reimbursement from the state.