UNESDA position on the review of the EU Waste Framework Directive 2008/98/EC (WFD) and the Packaging & Packaging Waste Directive 94/62/EC (PPWD)

10 March 2016

The European Soft Drinks Industry uses plastic, metal, glass and carton packaging to deliver high quality and safe products to our consumers. We are conscious of our responsibility for the end-of-life phase of the packaging and have long supported the concept of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) to collect and recycle valuable packaging materials in an economically feasible and environmentally sensible way.

UNESDA members have also invested in packaging innovation and the use of recycled material to improve resource efficiency and reduce environmental impacts. We have used recycled materials in our beverage packaging for years and we are committed to using them in the future, thus encouraging high-value recycling of packaging materials. In our experience, increasing upcycling and the use of recycled material in high-end applications starts with ensuring the recyclability of products entering the market; high quality collection, investment into sufficient recycling capacity (e.g. through incentives and investment programs) and removing regulatory barriers to the use of recycled material.

In this context, our members welcome the European Commission’s proposal for establishing a Circular Economy in Europe and for reviewing the Waste Framework Directive (WFD) and the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (PPWD). Therefore, we want to highlight key issues for our industry within the Commission’s proposal:

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)

We advocate for a strong European framework on EPR for packaging to increase efficiency and transparency of EPR in Europe. EPR definition and guidelines should be introduced and included in the PPWD as well in order to reflect the specificities of this waste stream. These can be based on the current proposal in WFD Art 8a to which we make further proposals:

The minimum requirements for EPR schemes set out in WFD Art 8a should be significantly strengthened to ensure a level playing field and fair competition among the different EPR schemes in the Member States. These along with clear roles and responsibilities of all the actors involved, will ensure transparency and avoid free-riding.

We are concerned by the unlimited obligations deriving from the coverage of the “entire cost of waste management of the products”, including undefined “treatment operations”, which could be combined with potential national measures, are not proportionate to the producer’s role and responsibilities (WFD Art 8a, §4). Within the defined scope of EPR for packaging (i.e. to achieve nationally defined collection and recycling targets for packaging materials), it is acceptable that in the Commission’s proposal EPR scheme cost and fee structure should reflect the full costs for material collection minus the value of the material and other revenues generated within the EPR scheme (net costs) as well as the true costs per packaging material.

 

Recycling Targets

We support the objective of increasing resource efficiency, sustainability and progress towards a circular economy through the recycling of materials. The setting of recycling targets must be based on a sound common methodology and reporting guidelines to ensure that all Member States account and report to the same rules. We therefore strongly support the Commission in rightly proposing that recycling performance should be calculated based on the weight of the input waste entering the final recycling process or prepared for re-use process (after completing sorting operations).

A. Extended Producer Responsibility

UNESDA members have been at the forefront establishing Packaging Recovery Organisations in the EU Member States as part of their EPR obligations. This has included market evaluation, substantial investment, management, research and development and investment in both collection systems and recycling capacity. However, we believe it is fair for the industry taking up its responsibility to also have a strong role in the implementation on the ground.

It is critical for the achievement of the circular economy objectives, to work with well-functioning EPR schemes to fulfil our legal obligations and to meet our sustainability and business objectives (e.g. achieve set collection & recycling rates, recycled material use, waste and litter avoidance etc.). Hence, we are keen to see a clear and harmonised definition of EPR along with common guidelines at EU level and ensure fair competition, efficiency and transparency across the Union.

Our detailed position on the Commission’s proposal on EPR

  • We recommend to re-introduce the definition1of EPR, as per the previous Communication in 2014, not only in WFD but also in PPWD. This should also include a “take back” obligation with the possibility of delegating it a to third-party packaging collection organisation, to enable traceability and the operational responsibility for obliged industry at national level.
  • We welcome the Commission’s proposal for EPR minimum requirements and the need for clear roles and responsibilities for producers, EPR schemes, public or private waste operators and local authorities (WFD, Art 8a). These roles should be extended to distributors (retailers) and consumers. It should be Member States and not EPR schemes themselves, as suggested in the proposal, that retain the roles referred to in WFD Art 8a, §1.
  • We firmly believe that whilst the detailed design of EPR systems should lie at national level, it is critical that a “common corridor” of roles and responsibilities of all the actors along the value chain is defined at EU level to improve clarity, increase cooperation and reduce conflict.
  • The Commission proposal sets the EPR minimum requirements in the WFD though PPWD only makes references to EPR schemes (PPWD art 4.1). We strongly believe that there is need for specific EPR provisions for packaging under PPWD. EPR guidance for packaging would better reflect its inherent specificities such as: high visibility and consumer awareness, the variety and quantity of EPR schemes in the packaging waste stream, the current lack of harmonisation of which type of packaging material is included in EPR schemes on Member State level, the wide variances in the maturity and business models of EPR schemes in the markets, etc. All our comments regarding the improvement of the current proposal in the WFD assume that a package-specific EPR definition and guidelines will be derived from them and added in the PPWD.
    • Financial contributions assigned to producers must be consistent with their nationally defined roles and responsibilities, which are guided by the definition of EPR to achieve nationally defined collection and recycling targets. We are concerned by the unlimited obligations deriving from the coverage of the “entire cost of waste management of the products”, including undefined “treatment operations”, which could be combined with potential national measures, that are not proportionate to the producer’s role and responsibilities (WFD Art 8a, §4). Within the defined scope of EPR for packaging (i.e. to achieve nationally defined collection and recycling targets for packaging materials), it is acceptable that in the Commission’s proposal that EPR scheme cost and fee structure should reflect the full costs for material collection minus the value of the material and other revenues generated within the EPR scheme (net costs) as well as the true costs per packaging material (WFD Art 8a, §4 (b)). The reason for that is that different packaging formats/components and applications incur different costs for collection and sorting and they have different recycling value. This in turn will increase transparency and encourages producers to put more recyclable and high quality material on the market that has an end-of life value
  • The principles of transparency, fairness and accountability should be reflected in a concrete framework of minimum requirements and roles at European level. We welcome EPR minimum requirements on transparency (Art 8a, §3) to avoid cherry-picking of materials and geographic scope. However, we believe that key element of transparency will be that the EPR schemes will report the EPR fees per ton of collected material and the revenue per ton of sold material on the secondary market, in order to ensure that the net-cost-principle is applied (Art 8a, §4, ind.1). We do not agree, however with the current wording that suggests that EPR schemes should disclose commercially sensitive information as the financial contributions of each producer.
  • We agree with the establishment of dialogue platforms between the stakeholders involved in the EPR schemes but they should include the producers as the main obliged stakeholder (Art 8a, §6).
  • Regarding the obligation of “EPR schemes to gather data on the products placed on the Union market by the producers subject to EPR” (Art 8a, §1, ind 3): we believe that this provision is disproportionate if EPR schemes for packaging are required to collect data about each packaged product. Packaging should not be considered a product or product group. This is why it has a separate legal text, the PPWD, so further specification is needed on how to apply this provision to our industry.
  • Litter: We welcome the proposal’s approach that Member States waste management plans should contain measures to combat all forms of littering and to clean up all types of litter, including the responsibility for Member states to prohibit the abandonment, dumping of uncontrolled management of waste, including littering (WFD, Art 8a §2; Art 28 §3 point 6; Art 36).
  • Landfill of Waste Directive: The proposal aims to limit the amount of total municipal waste going to landfill to 10% by 2030; however, a stronger provision preventing landfilling of recyclable materials could be helpful to prevent recyclable materials leaking from the recycling market (Art 5, §5).UNESDA welcomes the overall ambition of the Commission’s proposal to boost resource efficiency and increase the recovery and recycling of valuable materials. Higher recycling rates would potentially allow for more recycled content in our packaging and thus decrease resource use and energy carbon emissions. In order for the targets to be efficient, these need to also be achievable and realistic.No target can be achieved without harmonised calculation methods. We strongly support the Commission in rightly proposing that recycling performance should be calculated based on the weight of the input waste entering the final recycling process or prepared for re-use process (after completing sorting operations). The exceptions referred to in the Commission proposal are also justified.Regarding the preparing for re-use and recycling targets, these can encourage investments as well as more quality separate collections. The proposal’s intent to establish robust measurement and accurate reporting for transparent and comparable statistics is welcome. Further clarification will be needed on the provision that “preparation for re-use” can be counted toward recycling performance, which might have a distorting impact on the packaging market.

B. Recycling Targets & calculation method

UNESDA welcomes the overall ambition of the Commission’s proposal to boost resource efficiency and increase the recovery and recycling of valuable materials. Higher recycling rates would potentially allow for more recycled content in our packaging and thus decrease resource use and energy carbon emissions. In order for the targets to be efficient, these need to also be achievable and realistic.

No target can be achieved without harmonised calculation methods. We strongly support the Commission in rightly proposing that recycling performance should be calculated based on the weight of the input waste entering the final recycling process or prepared for re-use process (after completing sorting operations). The exceptions referred to in the Commission proposal are also justified.

Regarding the preparing for re-use and recycling targets, these can encourage investments as well as more quality separate collections. The proposal’s intent to establish robust measurement and accurate reporting for transparent and comparable statistics is welcome. Further clarification will be needed on the provision that “preparation for re-use” can be counted toward recycling performance, which might have a distorting impact on the packaging market.


1 “EPR means the producer’s operational and/or financial responsibility for a product extended to the post-consumer state of a product’s life-cycle”, see 2014 legislative proposal and annex from the Commission to review recycling and other wasterelated targets in the EU Waste Framework Directive 2008/98/EC, the Landfill Directive 1999//31/EC and the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive 94/62/EC. It was withdrawn in December 2014. It can be found here.

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