On 5 December, EXPRA held its autumn General Assembly in Brussels, Belgium. During the meeting, EXPRA’s Managing Director Joachim Quoden summarised the organisation’s key achievements in 2018, noting that it has broadly fulfilled most of its objectives while EXPRA 2.0 is already in full swing.
With regards to 2019, EXPRA will focus on continuing to provide expert knowledge and know how to EU policymakers regarding pending legislative proposals, assisting a smooth process of legal transposition of the Waste Directives, preparing for 2025-2030 target compliance and supporting national responses to the plastic strategy and the voluntary commitments, amongst other objectives.

The dismissal of all 9 Board Members, and the subsequent appointment of the new Board, through to April 2021, were approved. Leaving the Board after having served 3 consecutive terms, Mr Bogdan Ureche, CEO of the Romanian member of EXPRA ECO ROM Ambalaje, has decided to focus even more on the national context that currently requires significant attention.

Mr Todor Bourgoudjiev from EXPRA’s Bulgarian member ECOPACK was elected as a new Member of the Board. In addition to Bulgaria, Members of the Board now represent PROs from Belgium, the Czech Republic, Italy, Malta, Norway and Spain. EXPRA’s MD Joachim completes the Board.

Upon the Board’s recommendation, the General Assembly elected Mr Cees de Mol van Otterloo, the Director General of Afvalfonds Verpakkingen, as President of EXPRA, effective immediately and until April 2021. De Mol van Otterloo takes over from Mr William Vermeir, the former CEO of EXPRA’s Belgian member Fost Plus and EXPRA’s founding President.

EXPRA members were informed about the state of play in the transposition of the new Waste Legislation as well as the on-going developments with regards to the Single Use Plastics (SUP) Directive. With the transposition already kicking in, the discussion focused on the Commission’s upcoming Implementing Act (IA) on calculation, verification and reporting of data and a Delegated Act (DA) for establishing rules for average loss rates for sorted waste. It was agreed that EXPRA will continue to liaise with the Commission to ensure that the final legislation takes its concerns, and in particular the position on measuring at the entrance of the recycling plant, combined with relevant standards, into account. On SUP, Weber Shandwick explained the European Parliament and the Member States’ respective positions on key points of concern for members, namely the inclusion of litter clean-up cost obligations for producers and the bottle collection target.

EXPRA’s support act for the industry’s voluntary commitments on plastics’ recycling was also presented. The documents is based on three key actions: boosting quality collection of all packaging waste materials, enabling quality recycling the uptake of quality secondary materials, including plastics, and enhancing (plastic) packaging innovation. Overall, members voiced their strong support for the approach, while stressing the need to place greater emphasis on PRO’s not-for-profit nature, the role of local authorities for both collection infrastructure and the availability and quality of recycled materials, and technological neutrality.

An update on the two lighthouse projects under EXPRA 2.0 – transposition of EPR minimum requirements into national law and the Early Warning System (EWS) – was provided. With regards to EPR minimum requirements, for 2019 EXPRA will prepare transposition proposals and recommendations for PROs, national authorities as well as the Commission, continue discussing with the obliged industry, assist PROs, map specific challenges and closely follow the transposition process at EU and national level. On EWS, EXPRA will liaise with PROs on initial country-level findings, assess their respective targets, clustering them according to performance, and develop an Action Plan for each respective PROs groups.

Amongst other topics discussed, Francis Huisman from VALIPAC and EPRO informed members of the outcomes and key learning of the study trip to Asia while Michael Minch Dixon introduced the CEFLEX project, its vision, goals and deliverables. In the following discussion, key developments in each country were discussed, with several members highlighting the difficult situation they currently face at national level regarding legislative changes, as well as the challenges stemming from developments at EU level.