Single Use Flexible Plastic Packaging in Europe - Regulatory Context and Market Magnitude in the Retail Channel


Single Use Flexible Plastic Packaging in Europe - Regulatory Context and Market Magnitude in the Retail Channel

Published: September 2020

In June 2019 the European Commission released the Single-Use Plastics Directive, to establish rules to reduce the impact of certain plastic products on the environment. There is also legislation such as The Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive which affects the design, demand and end of life options for plastic packaging.

This new report from AMI will assist companies operating within the flexible packaging industry to enhance their market position by providing a timely and strategic analysis of the present and upcoming European sustainability strategies. The report will provide clarity on the regulatory context as well as quantifying the scale of the affected markets, with a particular focus on flexible plastic retail packaging.

AMI has determined single-use plastic packaging to incorporate the packaging products and food/drink delivery formats targeted by the European Commission’s Single-Use Plastics Directive and structured the analysis to correspond to traditionally defined packaging industry terms. Flexible retail packaging by AMI’s definition includes Pouches, bags and wrappers, Lidding film and Labels. The corresponding category from the SUP Directive is ‘Packets and wrappers’.

Single Use Flexible Packaging in Europe 2020 follows the successful launch of AMI’s 2019 Single Use Plastic Packaging in Europe report. Updated for 2020, this report has a specific focus on flexible plastic retail packaging.


Consumer drive for convenience has resulted in the proliferation of single-use plastics (SUP), which negatively affect our natural environment. The industry is now in need of action to scrutinise its role in a circular economy. During 2018 the European Commission published a proposal for the Single Use Plastic Directive that has rallied support from both national governments and the general public. This proposal was accepted and released in June 2019 and will affect demand for plastics in certain market segments.

The need for this report is highlighted by the fragmented legislative landscape as individual European nations are enforcing their own mitigation measures and plastic strategies leaving brand owners, polymer suppliers and converters in a state of flux. The shape of the industry has already begun to change as resin suppliers integrate with recycling companies and look into renewable material options, while brand owners and packaging producers will need to develop solutions to meet requirements and avoid financial penalties.

The key objective of our new authoritative sustainability-oriented report is to help the plastic industry navigate through the convoluted regulatory environment with close attention paid to:

  • The EU Directive on reduction of the impact of certain plastic products on the environment (SUP Directive, 2019)
  • The European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy (2018)
  • The Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (2015, amended 2018)
  • EC Regulations on Recycled Plastic Materials and Articles intended to come into contact with food
The national policies that have been transposed from EU Directives

The report:

  • Navigates through the present policy frameworks and discusses the impact each will have on the consumption of single-use plastic in the European market, with specific focus given to flexible plastic retail packaging.
  • Provides market magnitude perspective to illustrate practical implications of potential changes in policy frameworks.
  • Identifies and quantifies all applications likely to be subject of policy framework changes: plastic disposables, plastic retail packaging (rigid and flexible) and other single-use items as defined by the EU SUP Directive. A deep dive focus is given on flexible plastic retail packaging.
  • Discusses the current schools of thought on end-of-life solutions, focusing on identifying opportunities for bio-resins and maximising recyclability.
  • Provides context on sustainability drivers and how they shape innovations in the flexible packaging value chain including structural and format changes.

The report provides answers to the following questions:

  • What is the current regulatory framework around sustainability in flexible packaging and how to interpret it?
  • How will new regulations impact the value chain (imports vs. local production)?
  • Which response strategies to adopt to proactively manage market changes?
  • What is the market magnitude of single-use plastic packaging and how it can be segmented?
  • What is the material mix in the single-use packaging context?
  • What end-of-life options are best suited to applications relevant in flexible retail packaging?
  • What are new product development initiatives in flexible packaging and what drives them?

Application and format scope

AMI has determined single-use plastic packaging to incorporate the packaging products and food/drink delivery formats targeted by the EC’s Single Use Plastics Directive and structured to fit standardised product definitions traditionally used by AMI. 

This report gives an overview of the key segments within the SUP Directive, as well as a deep dive into the specific impact on the flexible retail packaging industry. By AMI’s definition this includes Pouches, bags and wrappers, Lidding film and Labels. The corresponding category from the SUP Directive is ‘Packets and wrappers’.

Formats quantified: Flexible retail packaging (pouches/bags/wrappers, lidding film, labels).   

Formats discussed but not quantified: rigid packaging (bottles/closures, thin wall packaging), catering and convenience disposables (beverage cups, disposable food containers, utensils).

Material scope

The demand for packaging application above is segmented into the conventional polymers utilised in the flexible packaging industry:

  • PE
  • PP
  • PET
  • PVC
  • PS
  • bio-resins
  • other (including recyclates)

The report contextualises other non-polymeric materials impacting the demand for plastics. The report provides detailed analysis of opportunities where recyclate and bio-resins will gain traction in the future.



Reporting basis

The report provides data in tonnes on the following years:

  • Past: 2013
  • Present: 2018, 2019
  • Future: 2023

Geographic scope

Production volume analysis in the report will be focussed on the EU28+3 market, with the following individual markets quantified:

  • France
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • UK
  • Spain
  • Poland
  • OWE
  • OCE

International trade will be contextualised.

Further information:

To receive a proposal or for further information please click the Enquire/Order button above or contact

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