The Directive on packaging and packaging waste, proposed by the European Commission on 15 July 1992, was adopted by the European Council on 15 December 1994. The Directive aims to harmonize national measures concerning the management of packaging and packaging waste, in order to: - Provide a high level of environmental protection; - Ensure the functioning of the internal market. Many conflicting interests have been taken into account, as well as the different starting situations of the Member States regarding this subject. This is the first step in a long-term process, in which convergence is to be gradually increased. Recognizing the urgent need for a final adoption, no effort has been spared to reach as much consensus as possible while retaining the essential objectives of the Directive. The way is now clear for the implementation of the Directive into national laws. The most relevant features of the Directive are: - Scope: The Directive covers all packaging placed on the market in the Community and all packaging waste, regardless of the material used; - Targets: The Directive includes specific articles on preventive measures and re-use systems, and sets quantitative targets for recovery and recycling of packaging waste. The present targets, to be reached within five years from the implementation date, are: - Recovery of between 50% and 65% of the packaging waste; - Recycling of between 25% and 45% of the totality of packaging materials with a minimum of 15% recycling for each individual material. The targets will be revised with a view to substantially increasing them not later than ten years from the implementation date. Member States are allowed to set programmes going beyond these targets under the condition that their policies do not create obstacles for the setting-up of similar policies in other Member States. Member States will take the necessary measures to establish specific return, collection and recovery systems in order to reach the objectives of the Directive. They are also free to develop their own waste management schemes (in conformity with the Treaty). As a monitoring mechanism for the implementation of the objectives set out in the Directive, harmonized national databases have to be established. The Directive lays out an important number of areas for standardization, regarding the essential requirements on the composition of re-usable and recoverable (including recyclable) packaging. It also calls for all parties involved - consumers, industry and authorities - to cooperate in the spirit of shared responsibility. To this end, the Member States will ensure that users of packaging obtain the necessary information.