After a one-year pause, the 24th edition of the Packaging Waste & Sustainability Forum took place in Brussels in the period 5-7 June 2018. As already an established tradition, EXPRA supported the organization of EPR Toolkit seminar on 5 June with content and speakers. The seminar, chaired by the Managing Director of EXPRA, was attended by around 35 participants – including representatives of the European Commission, packaging recovery
Logically, the presentations and the discussions focused on the new Waste Legislation and respective requirements and obligations which all stakeholders should meet.

On behalf of the DG Environment, EC, Ms Silvija Aile, Policy Officer, presented the new General Requirements for EPR, as well, as how the future Commission’s Guide(s) and monitoring of the implementation by the Member States will look like. In her statement she pointed out that all stakeholders are looking at the EC for guidance and harmonization, particularly the obliged industry which is struggling in the effort to respond to a multitude of requirements and standards.

In the following panel, representatives of industry – Simon Webb, Procter & Gamble, NGOs – Stephane Arditi, EEB and EXPRA member Ecoembes, represented by Esther Colino shared their assessment and suggestions how the new legal EPR requirements can/would help boost EPR effectiveness.
Harmonization of scope, rules and requirements, as well as clear and shared criteria for eco-modulation, are the main requested to the EC. For the new recycling targets to be achieved in 2025, relevant provisions need to be swiftly transposed without disrupting the internal market, in the respect of subsidiarity, and in a transparent manner.
Representatives of DSD – Helmut Schmitz and Slopak – Srečko Bukovec, shared best but also bad practices on the topic “Will the Proposed Minimum Requirements Help to Reach the Objectives of the Packaging Directive”. Mr Bukovec described the very problematic situation in Slovenia, where there is no level playing field, respectively no proper monitoring by the state and expressed his hopes that the new legislation will contribute for solving the existing problems.

During the second half of the Workshop two very important topics were presented and discussed: the impact of online sales on PROs and industry and responding to the new demand for eco modulation of EPR fees.
Mr Séamus Clancy, CEO of Repak presented the case of Ireland, the impact of free riding resulting from distance sales, as well, as the measures initiated by Repak in trying to solve this problem. Monika Romenska, EXPRA presented the general context within the new waste legislation pertaining to online sales, as well, as some findings of the scope of the problem of free riding identified jointly with WEEE Forum and EucoLight.

The expectations of industry and the different approaches on eco modulation of fees, already being used in France and Italy were presented respectively by: Virginia Janssens, EUROPEN, Alexandra CITEO, France and the Chair of EXPRA S&P WG – Amanda Fuso Nerini, CONAI, Italy. Overall the participants agreed that the definition of minimum requirements, of a common set of metrics and of criteria for fee-modulation has to be based on quality, reliable data, which unfortunately are largely missing for most of the EU MS, as well as hampered by confidentiality issues within the obliged industry and poor data reporting on exports.

During the forum, the following topics, creating additional uncertainty were also defined:

  • the extension of the producers’ responsibility to clean-ups costs as proposed in the SUP Directive;
  • the new contribution to the EU for every kilo of plastic packaging waste not recycled;
  • the online sales, which are not yet addressed by existing EPR schemes, though rapidly growing across EU and being increasingly used in new sectors such as food and beverage;
  • a still too limited, fragmented secondary raw material market for plastics;

To secure sufficient capacity for recycling of used plastic packaging within the EU, the following matters should be urgently addressed by the EU, the MS and all actors in the plastic (packaging) sector:

  • Plastic packaging should be designed for optimized resource use, for sustainable sound sourcing, for responsible use phase and for recycling and reuse;
  • Separate collection of plastic packaging should be improved, particularly for plastic packaging consumed on-the-go/outside households;
  • Quality standards should be defined for recycled plastics to stimulate the demand. This means, technical specifications for each material collected should be reflected in national standards, defined by the EPR with recyclers and sorters and used to award municipality accordingly.
  • Innovations in bio-based plastics, mainly related to biodegradability and composability, should be also carefully addressed through common EU codes and standards.

As the previous Forums, the event provided an opportunity to present and hear the positions of all stakeholders with a lot of discussions and interaction between the panellists and also with the audience.