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EU waste legislative package published in the Official Journal of the European Union

EU waste legislative package published in the Official Journal of the European Union
by Ellen Thornton at 10:03 in Circular Economy, Emerging, Environmental, Packaging, WEEE, Battery

On 14 June, the Official Journal of the European Union published the EU waste legislative package which includes amendments to the Directives on end-of-life vehicles; batteries and accumulators and waste batteries and accumulators; waste electrical and electronic equipment; landfill of waste; waste and packaging and packaging waste among others. These amendments cover key new provisions for extended producer responsibility of which both producers and producer responsibility schemes should be aware of.

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Member States should continue to apply the waste hierarchy using economic instruments and other measures to provide incentives such as landfill and incineration charges, pay-as-you-throw schemes, extended producer responsibility schemes, facilitation of food donation, incentives for local authorities, or other appropriate instruments and measures. The text states that extended producer responsibility schemes form an essential part of efficient waste management. However, their effectiveness and performance differ significantly between Member States. Hence, it is necessary to set minimum operating requirements for such schemes. Such requirements should reduce costs and boost performance, as well as ensuring a level playing field, including for small and medium-sized enterprises. Furthermore, end-of-life costs should be incorporated into product prices and provide incentives for producers, when designing their products, to take better into account, recyclability, reusability, reparability and the presence of hazardous substances. Such requirements should improve the governance and transparency of extended producer responsibility schemes and reduce the possibility of conflicts of interest emerging between organisations implementing extended producer responsibility obligations on behalf of producers of products and waste operators that those organisers contract. In addition, a transition period is necessary for existing extended producer responsibility schemes to adapt their structures and procedures to the new requirements.

Producers are required to cover the necessary costs to meet the waste management targets and other targets and objectives, including on waste prevention, defined for the relevant extended producer responsibility scheme. The text states that waste prevention is the most efficient way to improve resource efficiency and to reduce the environmental impact of waste. It is important therefore that Member States take appropriate measures to prevent waste generation and monitor and assess progress in the implementation of such measures. As part of the measures, Member States should facilitate innovative production, business and consumption models that reduce the presence of hazardous substances in materials and products, that encourage the increase of the lifespan of products and that promote re-use including through the establishment and support of re-use and repair networks, such as those run by social economy enterprises, deposit refund and return-refill schemes and by incentivising remanufacturing, refurbishment and, where appropriate, repurposing of products as well as sharing platforms. Furthermore, to ensure uniform and effective measurement of the implementation of waste prevention measures, common indicators and targets should be established.

Considering that promotion of sustainable consumption can significantly contribute to waste prevention; Member States should take steps to make consumers aware of that contribution and encourage them to participate more actively in order to improve resource efficiency. As part of measures to reduce waste generation, Member States should include continuous communication and education initiatives to raise awareness on the issues surrounding waste prevention and littering and may include the use of deposit-refund schemes and the setting of quantitative targets and provide, as appropriate, adequate economic incentives to producers.

Another key point is that the fight against litter should be a shared effort between competent authorities, producers and consumers. Consumers should be incentivised to change their behaviour including through education and awareness raising, while producers should promote the sustainable use of and contribute to appropriate end-of-life management of their products. Member States should ensure enhanced compliance with the obligation to collect waste separately through introducing separate collection of bio-waste, hazardous waste produced by households and textile waste in addition to the separate collections already in use. This will help to avoid waste treatment which locks in resources at the lower levels of the waste hierarchy, increase preparing for re-use and recycling rates, enable high-quality secondary raw materials.

The text states that the Commission shall publish guidelines, in consultation with Member States, on cross-border cooperation concerning extended producer responsibility schemes and on the modulation of financial contributions paid by producers.

In terms of the general minimum requirements for extended producer responsibility schemes, Member States shall:

  • Define in a clear way the roles and responsibilities of all relevant actors involved, including producers of products placing products on the market of the Member State, organisations implementing extended producer responsibility obligations on their behalf, private or public waste operators, local authorities and, where appropriate, re-use and preparing for re-use operators and social economy enterprises;

  • in line with the waste hierarchy, set waste management targets, aiming to attain at least the quantitative targets relevant for the extended producer responsibility scheme as laid down in this Directive and other relevant Directives of the European Parliament and of the Council, and set other quantitative targets and/or qualitative objectives that are considered relevant for the extended producer responsibility scheme;

  • ensure that a reporting system is in place to gather data on the products placed on the market of the Member State by the producers of products subject to extended producer responsibility and data on the collection and treatment of waste resulting from those products specifying, where appropriate, the waste material flows, as well as other relevant data;

  • ensure equal treatment of producers of products regardless of their origin or size, without placing a disproportionate regulatory burden on producers, including small and medium-sized enterprises, of small quantities of Products.

Member States shall take measures to ensure that extended producer responsibility schemes that have been established before 4 July 2018, comply with this Article by 5 January 2023. The text furthermore gives targets that in order to comply with the objectives of this Directive, and move to a European circular economy with a high level of resource efficiency, Member States shall take the necessary measures designed to achieve the following targets:

  • by 2025, the preparing for re-use and the recycling of municipal waste shall be increased to a minimum of 55 % by weight;

  • by 2030, the preparing for re-use and the recycling of municipal waste shall be increased to a minimum of 60 % by weight;

  • by 2035, the preparing for re-use and the recycling of municipal waste shall be increased to a minimum of 65 % by weight.

In terms of packaging, as the amount and type of packaging used generally depends on choices made by the producer rather than the consumer, extended producer responsibility schemes should be established. Effective extended producer responsibility schemes can have a positive environmental impact by reducing the generation of packaging waste and increasing its separate collection and recycling. While extended producer responsibility schemes for packaging already exist in most Member States, there are wide disparities in the way they are set up, in their efficiency and in the scope of responsibility of producers. The rules on extended producer responsibility laid down in Directive 2008/98/EC should therefore apply to extended producer responsibility schemes for producers of all packaging.

Overall, Member States are reminded of using the waste hierarchy and circular economy principles to reduce the loss of resources in waste and to protect the environment through reduction in litter and hazardous substances entering the environment. EPR schemes should introduce modulated fees which reflect the costs of end-of-life processing and producers must consider sustainability and end-of-life impact when creating their products and packaging. This blog has summarised some of the key points however, if you are a producer or EPR scheme, we would recommend that you read the text for yourself for further information. In addition, if you have any questions, please contact us here to speak to one of our consultants. If you are interested in reading more blogs and articles like this one, you can sign up to receive our free monthly digest. ​

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