ENDS Europe DAILY: Producer responsibility plan gets mixed support

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Producer responsibility plan gets mixed support

The European Commission’s proposal to establish minimum requirements for extended producer responsibility (EPR) schemes as part of the planned waste law update met with a mixed reaction from member states.
Environment ministers held an initial exchange of views on the idea on Tuesday, with a number of countries voicing support.

But others raised concerns about the European Commission proposal, which would require member states to “define measurable targets in terms of prevention, preparing for re-use, re-use, recycling and/or recovery” and develop sanctions for when targets are missed. Countries would also have to take steps to improve EPR schemes’ financial transparency.

In addition, they would have to ensure that financial contributions paid into EPR schemes by producers or importers cover the entire cost of waste management, including separate collection and treatment, and any reporting requirements. Contributions should also be partly based on the available revenues from the sales of recycled materials.

Germany said the provisions tabled by the Commission were “far too detailed”.
“I think that we should refrain from having such detailed provisions on calculating the costs for products brought on the market. We need to bear in mind the principle of subsidiarity when setting these requirements and leave these to the member states,” the German minister said.

Ireland said the Commission’s proposal failed to distinguish between EPR schemes established under EU legislation and those independently established by member states.

Ireland would not support EU requirements for the latter as this “could act as an obstacle to a targeted, tailored and workable producer responsibility scheme for certain waste types, for instance hazardous waste on farms”.
The packaging industry and green groups are strongly in favour of minimum requirements.
Packaging industry lobby Europen said used packaging has become a valuable resource over the past decade and new EPR schemes have been set up in almost all member states, with different legal ownership structures and rules. Minimum legal requirements would allow “fair competition and a level playing field” and boost use of EPR.
But Europen is not in favour of the Commission’s proposal that the payments into EPR schemes should cover the entire cost of waste management. Clear rules are needed on where producers’ responsibility ends, Europen said. This point was also made by some member states on Tuesday.

Reuse and recycling social enterprise network RReuse said the Commission’s call for measurable targets on preparing for re-use was particularly welcome. “This, along with prevention, has to be top priority, above recycling, but is too often neglected,” a spokesman said.