On 1st June 2023, Maria Georgiadou started working with Pro Carton & ECMA to support with Public Affairs efforts in Brussels.  Maria has worked in Public Affairs for over 5 years and has been with the Confederation of European Paper Industries (Cepi) since 2021, currently as Recycling Manager with a particular focus on the Packaging & Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR).

In this new job-sharing role with Cepi – ECMA – Pro Carton, Maria is focussing on tracking the PPWR and ensuring the interests of paper, cartons and cartonboard producers are represented in Brussels, as we seek to influence the EU packaging policy debate.

Maria is based in Brussels where she will become our ‘eyes and ears’, providing regular updates to our members as the current raft of packaging policies navigate their way through the Brussels legislature.  We caught up with Maria earlier this month to find out more about the role and her background:

Maria, you have worked in a number of industries, what drew you to the CEPI role in cartonboard / cartons industry?

A number of things initially drew me to Cepi.  There is a fascinating portfolio of products represented by pulp and paper which have endless end-uses and offer great value in the provision of products used by society. The use of paper and board ensures that consumer products are transported safely, they deliver and protect our food, they ensure health safety and personal hygiene and do all of this while being renewable and being sourced, manufactured & recycled in Europe.

The paper and board industry is such a dynamic and forward-thinking industry – innovation is all around us and people in the industry really do think “outside the box”. There is a huge portfolio of innovative products that do not fall under what we think of as the “traditional” paper products – and these are fascinating.

The EU Green Deal and CEAP (Circular Economy Action Plan) have brought forward ambitious policy measures.  Finding the right balance between ambition, future-proof thinking and feasible targets that are science based is the biggest challenge now for advocacy work – but it is also what makes the work interesting for me!

What is it in your career to date that qualifies you to this new role in conjunction with CEPI / Pro Carton and ECMA?

Well, my experience so far on EU policy and also in the paper industry – and most importantly with the paper-based packaging value chain (under Fibre Packaging Europe).  What this means is that I have a good understanding of the dynamics of the different sub-sectors, especially when it comes to the PPWR, and that is key to this role.

Where do you see the focus points in your new role for the first 6 months?

The political debate on PPWR is ongoing both in the European Parliament and the Council and the direction of this legislative proposal is to be decided over the next 6 months. This is where I will be focusing my time and efforts; making sure that our value chain voice is first of all united, and most importantly that we are heard – and listened to – throughout this process. It is important that the co-legislators strike just the right balance.

Where do you see the most important adjustments being made in the PPWR discussion?

Overall it is most important that the contribution of fibre-based recyclable packaging in the circular economy is recognised in the PPWR.  Reuse targets should be based on a complete life-cycle approach.  It is crucial to ensure a level playing field for recyclable and bio-based packaging and to avoid creating a plastics economy.  PPWR must set ambitious, but realistic, recyclability requirements. Enabling conditions provided by the policy makers and implemented at the Member States level are also important, namely separate collection of paper and board to facilitate our circular packaging model.

We are in for a very interesting 6 months!