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INCPEN Member News

27 January 2021

Danone Canada strengthens its commitment to a circular economy by signing the Canada Plastics Pact

26 January 2021

Ball plans to build a new aluminium can plant near Pilsen, Czechia, creating 200 jobs

26 January 2021

Smarties becomes the first global confectionery brand to switch to recyclable paper packaging

26 January 2021

PepsiCo goes beyond

25 January 2021

Essity ranked as one of the most sustainable companies in the world

25 January 2021

Costa Coffee Ready-To-Drink (RTD) kicks off new year with innovation

24 January 2021

Dow and The Nature Conservancy celebrate 10 years of groundbreaking collaboration to value nature in business strategy

22 January 2021

P&G partners with Rhinostics to take innovative nasal swab to market to improve speed of COVID-19 testing

22 January 2021

Greens suddenly become very trendy thanks to lockdown and the vegan revolution

21 January 2021

Dow and Plastigaur announce the successful commercialization of collation shrink films using recycled plastic

21 January 2021

Unilever commits to help build a more inclusive society

20 January 2021

Dow, Liby and LOVERE ink MoU to advance sustainability in packaging agenda

20 January 2021

Essity launches absorbent underwear for menstruation and incontinence

20 January 2021

To drive systemic change towards true circularity, regulation and action must be based on science and facts

19 January 2021

Crown to invest in its sixth can plant in Brazil to meet growing demand

18 January 2021

Tesco reaffirms support for Marcus Rashford’s Food Poverty Taskforce

18 January 2021

M&S Food to bolster the Government's £15 free school meals vouchers to £20 to give children breakfast and lunchtime meals

15 January 2021

Coca-Cola HBC widens portfolio: ‘A beverage for every occasion around the clock’

14 January 2021

Ocado goes from green to ‘grape’ in major brand overhaul

14 January 2021

We've doubled our climate goal and pledge net-zero emissions by 2040

13 January 2021

Danone debuts plant-based beverage for athletes

13 January 2021

Why single-use packaging is better than reusable

13 January 2021

Boots helps vaccinate the nation with launch of first COVID-19 vaccination site in Halifax pharmacy - with more sites to come

12 January 2021

Ardagh Group Earns A- from CDP

12 January 2021

Danone's So Delicious launches plant-based cheese

12 January 2021

ProAmpac acquires Rapid Action Packaging

12 January 2021

New research reveals family dinnertime is on the decline with only 28% of households sharing the same meal

11 January 2021

P&G commits to enable 2 billion people to adopt healthy oral care habits by 2030

11 January 2021

It’s another plant-based first as the vegan jam doughnut is launched by Tesco

08 January 2021

Sainsbury’s announces mass rollout of plant-based own brand teabags in stores

07 January 2021

Costa Coffee launches its most innovative drinks range yet

6 January 2021

Dove launches its first refillable deodorant in effort to cut plastic use;

06 January 2021

M&S Clothing & Home signs call to action on human rights abuses

05 January 2021

Greiner & SABIC create Unilever bouillon packaging made from circular polymer

04 January 2021

Unilever and Alibaba launch recycling machines featuring artificial intelligence

30 December 2020

Tesco removes one billion pieces of plastic

21 December 2020

Free carrots, Fareshare and food redistribution - McDonald's UK ends 2020 with bumper giveaway

17 December 2020

First playground from McDonald's, made from recycled Happy Meal toys, launches in Oxford

17 December 2020

Dow, Plastchim-T and Ticinoplast introduce wide range of tenter frame BOPE packaging films

Legislation Updates

INCPEN Members (not including Trade Association Group colleagues) can see all legislation updates in full by clicking here.  If you experience issues logging in, please contact Alison Skuse.

France - Packages marked with Green Dot to pay twice the recycling fees from April 2021 - 27 Jan 2021

To ensure consumers are not confused about the sorting rules for packaging waste, PRO CITEO is required to penalize packaging that uses the Green Dot symbol. The Green Dot symbol is still mandatory in Cyprus and Spain.

Green Dot designated as symbol that can lead to confusion as regards waste sorting
The AGEC Law introduced a provision into the Environmental Code (Art. L541-10-3) which stipulates that ‘signs and markings which could lead to confusion as regards separate collection and sorting rules’ are subject to a penalty of at least 100% of the financial contribution required for waste management of the product or package the sign is on. These signs and markings would be defined in a Ministerial Order.

This Order was published on 24-Dec-20 and entered into force on 1-Jan-21. It says that the signs and markings in question are ‘graphic symbols representing two or more arrows rolled up and inscribed in a circle’.  This description evidently means the Green Dot.  CITEO assumes that the Ministry’s reason for describing rather than mentioning the ‘Green Dot’ is the Ministry’s lack of a licence from licensor PRO Europe.

Exempt from the penalty are symbols legally mandated by another member state to inform consumers that a product/package is subject to separate collection or is recyclable. This exemption applies the European principle of mutual recognition, which requires that a product legally sold in one member state cannot be prohibited in another Member State.

PRO required to penalize the use of the Green Dot
Published on 1-Jan-21, an amendment (Art. I. 4) to the requirements for household packaging PROs requires a PRO to charge a penalty of 100% of the recycling fee on packaging bearing above described symbols from 1-Apr-21.

Temporarily exempt from the penalty are packaged products or packaging: -
  • manufactured or imported before 1-Apr-21. These may be placed on the market for 18 months thereafter;
  • marketed by the producer in identical packaging in a member state in which the [Green Dot] symbol is legally required. These items may be manufactured or imported until 1-Jan-22 and stocks may be cleared for 12 months thereafter.
Two Member States still legally require marking with the Green Dot
CITEO notes that only two Member States still legally require marking with the Green Dot: Cyprus and Spain.  Portugal lifted the obligation from Jan-19, Greece in 2017. 

CITEO also notes that the French authorities would accept packaging with stickers that hide the Green Dot.

EU Institutions - Draft guideline on what is to be considered a SUP product raises industry concerns - 27 Jan 2021

Industry fears that the draft encroaches upon and erodes the scope of the Packaging Directive and to potentially lead to fragmentation of the single market, uncertainty and barriers to trade.

Art. 12 of the SUP Directive tasks the Commission with developing guidelines, including examples of what is to be considered a single use plastic (SUP) product for the purposes of the Directive.

The Commission aims to adopt the guidelines in Q1-21 and reportedly sent them to member states for final consideration on 19-Jan-21. The guidelines are not legally binding but that member states can be expected to follow them.

Background: The SUP Directive bans 9 SUP products of which 5 can be POM as products (when sold empty) or as (service) packaging. In addition, it imposes 8 other partly overlapping sets of requirements on 10 partly overlapping products or product groups, of which 6 can be POM as packaging.
Environment focused SUP Directive prevails over single-market focused Packaging Directive
The draft Guidelines (16-Dec-20 version) recall that Recital 10 of the SUP Directive says that the SUP Directive shall prevail in the event of a conflict with the Packaging Directive.  

This is important, as it means that SUP items regulated by the SUP Directive that are packaging might no longer enjoy the single market protection of the Packaging Directive, if measures taken by member states to implement the SUP Directive give rise to barriers to trade. [The Packaging Directive is based on Article 114 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU that prioritises the functioning of the single market. The SUP Directive is based on Article 192(1) that ensures environmental protection].

Draft guideline’s clarification of the definitions of ‘plastic’ and ‘SUP product’
The draft guidelines clarify the criteria of the definitions of ‘Plastic’ and ‘SUP product’ of the Directive. In summary: -
  • a SUP product is ‘wholly or partly made from plastic’, whereby ‘partly’ is not quantified by a de minimis threshold. The criterion of ‘plastic functioning as a main structural component of the final product’ is by met the plastic coating or lining of a, for example, paper or board product, but not by paints, inks and adhesives which are explicitly excluded from the scope of the SUP Directive (Recital 11) and consequently cannot be considered to function as a main structural component.
  • not considered ‘plastic’ are natural polymers that have not been chemically modified:Polymers produced via an industrial fermentation process are not considered ‘natural polymers’ since polymerisation has not taken place in nature’. … A manufactured polymer does not qualify as a ‘natural polymer’ even if the identical polymer occurs naturally.
  • not considered a SUP are products of ‘refillable and reusable nature’: For SUP packaging to be considered of a ‘refillable and reusable nature’, one condition is that a reuse system is in operation. For items that are not POM as packaging (e.g. plastic plates, cups sold at retail), further considerations must be taken into account. Products sold empty at retail which are identical to SUP service packaging (e.g. containers, cups) should be considered SUP products.
In conclusion, a SUP item may be made of plastic or of another material (e.g. paper) lined or coated with plastic, whereby any industrially manufactured bio-plastics count as plastics. 

Draft guidelines on specific product criteria – serving size not a criterion
In addition, to the above criteria, each of the SUPs mentioned in the Directive must meet specific product criteria. Notably, the draft Guidelines interpret key criteria as follows: -
  • To be considered an SUP product, a food container must i.e. have a tendency to become litter ‘due to its volume or size, in particular single-serve portions', says the Directive. The draft guidelines say that ‘no specific limit value for the size or volume’ can be set as there is no common understanding of a ‘single-serve portion’ and the volume would i.e.. depend on the number of people consuming the food at a serving. By de-linking the volume/size of a pack from its littering potential, the draft guidelines potentially allow larger food containers to be considered in scope of the SUP Directive.
  • A SUP food container, packet or wrapper must contain food that can be consumed ‘without any further preparation’, e.g. without adding water or heating, says the Directive. The draft guidelines do not consider washing, pealing or cutting as a food preparation, thus potentially allowing to include packs for a wider range of fruits, vegetables and other foodstuffs.
  • The guidelines confirm details that were not set out in the body of the Directive or the annex, but only in a recital.  For example, it indicates that the separate collection target for plastic beverage bottles should apply to bottles containing milk.  This could be problematic and many member states are proposing to meet this target through a DRS, most of which exclude milk and dairy drinks for hygiene reasons. [However, Germany is now proposing to include containers of milk in its DRS.]
Industry concerns
On 21-Jan-21, key industry groups* expressed concern that the draft Guidelines fail to clarify key provisions and notably sever the link between a product’s volume or [serving] size and its littering potential.  The absence of maximum size or volume criterion to assess littering potential and other ambiguities enable different national interpretations that may lead to fragmentation of the single market, uncertainty and barriers to trade.

*AIM, AISE, AmChamEU, CPME, ECMA, EUMEPS, EPPA, EUPC, EUROPEN, FOODDRINK Europe, PCEP, petcore, Plastics Europe, Plastics Recyclers Europe, Smart Packaging Europe, Styrenics Circular Solutions

Latvia - Beverage sector proposal chosen to operate national DRS for 7 years - 22 Jan 2021

The Latvian State Environmental Service (SES) has chosen an operator to centrally administer Latvia’s upcoming national DRS. When launched in early 2022, Latvia will be the last Baltic country to introduce a national DRS.

Background: In Oct-19, the Saeima (Latvian Parliament) anonymously adopted an amendment to the Packaging Act which introduces a DRS from Feb-22. In the first half of 2020 various consultations took place and in Aug-20 rules for the operation of the deposit system were published with a slightly revised scope and new markings for deposit bearing single-use, and revised markings for multi-trip packaging. 

Latvia recycled about 32% of plastic packaging in 2018, making it unlikely that the EU’s CEP and SUP Directives targets can be met without a functioning DRS. Since the early 2000’s, Latvia has made several attempts at introducing a DRS that failed to pass Parliament. Estonia to the north Latvia, and Lithuania to the south already have DRS’ in place, and the three countries had discussed the possibility of a common Baltic DRS.

Selection of the DRS operator 
By the 30-Sep-20 submission deadline, the beverage sector on the one, and waste and retail sectors on the other hand, submitted separate applications to operate the DRS: -
  • Depozīta Iepakojuma Operators (‘Packaging Deposit Operator’ or DIO) established in Jun-20 by is controlled by the country’s brewers and beverage producers incl. Coca Cola - which together represent over 80% of beverages affected by the DRS - and recycler PET Baltija.
  • Nulles Depozits (‘Zero Deposit’) established in Sep-20 is held by Green Belt (36%) and BAO (20%) - both controlled by waste management interests - and the Latvian Traders Association LTA (36%) representing notably the retail sector, as well as a number of smaller shareholders. LTA decided to not join DIO due to concerns about the possible monopoly position of the brewers and disagreement over implementation aspects concerning the contribution of retailers/distributors to the DRS.  
On 29-Dec-20, the SES announced to select DIO as the operator of the national DRS on the basis of the larger share of the beverage producers that DIO represents and its more robust implementation plan notably with regards to territorial coverage, reuse of packaging and public awareness. There were also concerns about the veracity of Nulles Depozits’ claim to represent 30% of the affected beverage market – the minimum required for submitting an application.

On 14-Jan-21, the SES and DIO signed an agreement for administering the DRS for 7-years, from 1-Feb-22 to 31-Jan-29. DIO has been instructed to submit an updated implementation plan aligned with the terms of the agreement by 31-Jan-21 which will further detail container return methods - DIO’s application foresaw the establishment of 1,428 collection points, of which 694 are automatic and 734 manual - and model cooperation agreements. 

DIO’s next steps will be to: - 
  • conclude cooperation agreements with all parties involved in the DRS – producers, packers and fillers, retailers, logistics and treatment operators; and
  • make the necessary investments to roll out the DRS infrastructure, estimated at EUR 30-35 million [a tender for the procurement of reverse vending machines is planned to be launched in Feb-21].
DRS from Feb-22
From 1-Feb-22, the DRS will be mandatory for certain beverages in single-use and reusable glass, plastic and aluminum packaging* and deposit bearing containers will have to be marked to identify single-use and multi-trip packaging**. 

The deposit amount will be EUR 0.1 per unit, the same amount as in Lithuania and Estonia.  
* DRS scope:

Packaging types
  • glass bottles from 0.1 to 3 liters (non-beer fermented products from 0.1 to 0.75 liters);
  • PET bottles from 0.1 to 3 liters;
  • plastic bottles for non-beer fermented products from 0.1 to 0.5 or 1 liter; and
  • cans from 0.2 to 1 liters.
  • Carbonated and non-carbonated soft drinks (e.g. mineral water, drinking water, lemonades, energy drinks, iced tea, juices, nectars);
  • Beer;
  • Other fermented products with an alcohol content of up to 6% (e.g. cider, alcoholic cocktails), excl. beer, wine, sparkling wine and fruit wine.

Germany - Cabinet approves draft amendment to Packaging Act to meet SUP and CEP objectives - 21 Jan 2021

On 20-Jan-21 the Federal Cabinet adopted a draft amendment to the Packaging Act which i.a. proposes to include all beverages - including dairy products - in single-use plastic bottles and metal cans to the mandatory DRS, to obligate take-away and on the spot food and beverages to also be made available in reusable packaging and to prohibit online marketplaces from enabling sellers that do not comply with their packaging obligations.

The draft will now enter the Parliamentary process and is scheduled to enter into force from 3-Jul-21.  It follows a Nov-20 initial draft and the submission of a revised draft to TRIS for stakeholder comments by  23-Mar-21. 

The draft proposes numerous amendments, notably the following which are presented in more detail below: -
  • Re-usable alternative for point-of-sales filled SUP food packaging and single use beverage cups of any material - from 2023
  • Changes affecting beverage containers: Minimum recycled content, collection targets, DRS exemption for certain beverages eliminated
  • Marketplaces to be prohibited from enabling the ‘offering for sale’ of non-compliant goods
  • Changes related to determining the party obligated as producer
  • Introducing financial transparency requirement for PROs a minimum requirement on EPR
Re-usable alternative for point-of-sales filled SUP food packaging and any single-use beverage cups - from 2023
From Jan-23, ‘final distributors’ - i.e. fast food and take away restaurants, food delivery services are to: -
  • offer the same food and beverages that are sold in SUP packaging single-use cups also in reusable containers, not ‘at a higher price or at worse conditions’ than the single-use alternatives. This provision goes beyond the SUP Directive by applying to single-use beverage cups of any material, not only plastics, to ensure that final distributors do not switch from SUP cups to paper-based cups. ‘SUP food packaging’ are items filled by the final distributor such as boxes with or without lids meant for immediate consumption, etc. Items not considered ‘SUP food packaging’ are beverage containers, beverage cups, plates, flexible packaging such as wrappers containing food (§3.4b).
  • inform end-users clearly of the possibility of returning reusable containers/packaging at the POS or – in case of home delivery – in the media through which sales are made and
  • take-back those reusable containers/packaging that they placed on the market themselves.
Shops with at most 5 staff and a sales area or - in case of a delivery service - storage and dispatch area of at most 80 sqm may offer end-users to fill packaging that they bring with them as an alternative to offering reusable packaging (new section 7 inserted into the Packaging Act).

Notes: The provision implements the SUP Directive's Art. 4.1, requiring member states to achieve a 'a measurable quantitative reduction' of SUP beverage cups and SUP food packaging between 2022 and 2026. A notable criteria for 'food packaging' as used in the SUP Directive is that its content is meant for immediate consumption either on-the-spot or take-away, as specified in the SUP Directive Annex Part A(2)).

Stakeholder responses have been mixed: The waste management sector (industry associations BDE, BVSE and the association of local public utilities VKU) welcomed the proposal. Retailers’ association HDE expressed some concern about practicability and called for a 1-year delay to Jan-24. Consumer organisations, represented by vzbv, criticise the exemptions for smaller shops and the fact that they apply to SUP food packaging which would drive sellers to switch to single-use board or aluminium packaging.
Changes affecting beverage containers: Minimum recycled content, collection targets, removal of DRS exemptions 

Minimum recycled material content targets for PET/plastic beverage bottles – from 2025/30: The draft obligates producers of: -
  • single-use PET beverage bottles to use at least 25% recycled material by 2025;
  • single-use beverage bottles of any plastic to use at least 30% recycled material by 2030.
The targets do not apply to bottles used for medical foods. The producer may meet the targets per bottle, or as a percentage of the entire annual bottle production (new §30a).

Note: The provision transposes Art. 6 (5) of the SUP Directive, which obligates each member state to reach the above targets.

Minimum collection targets for single-use plastic beverage bottles – from 2025/29: The SUP Directive’s Art. 9, which requires members states to collect separately 77% of SUP beverages bottles in 2025 and 90% in 2029, is proposed to be transposed as an ‘Overall Waste Management Objective’ (§1 of the Packaging Act) without holding a specific party responsible for reaching the targets (the targets also apply to bottles with recycled content).

Exemptions from DRS for certain beverages and dairy products in plastic and metal packaging eliminated - from 2022: All beverage types, including dairy products, in single-use plastic containers and metal cans will be subject to DRS. Currently single-use wines, spirits, mixed drinks, fruit and vegetable juices and nectars, drinks containing at least 50% milk or milk-based products, yoghurts und kefirs are exempt from the DRS. From Jan-22, these exemptions will no longer apply for those products when packaged in single-use plastic packaging or metal cans.  A transition period until Jan-24 applies to milk-based products, yoghurts und kefirs (revised § 31).  Note: The exemptions remain in place for glass packaging.

Marketplaces to be prohibited from enabling the ‘offering for sale’ of non-compliant goods
To address the free-rider problem in online marketplaces, the draft proposes to prohibit an 'electronic marketplace' - established in Germany or not - to ‘enable’ other parties to ‘offer products for sale’ for which a packaging PRO must - but has not been - contracted, effectively requiring the market place to ‘check’ if each seller it ‘enables’ is EPR-compliant.  In the same token, 'fulfilment service providers' are prohibited from performing services involving non-compliant packaging. Violations of the prohibition may incur fines of up to EUR 100K. (revised §7, 3, 9.5)

Note: The draft proposes the same approach as the Sep-20 draft amendment to the WEEE Act: This approach builds on a peculiarity of German EPR legislation which prohibits distributors from ‘offering for sale’ products/packages from non-compliant producers.

Changes related to determining the party obligated as producer
To improve other producer registration related provisions, the draft proposes to: -
  • introduce the concept of AR (authorised representative) into the Packaging Act (new §14a);
  • clarify obligations for ‘point-of-sale’ (service) packaging: Currently retailers are by default considered as the party placing service packaging on the market. However, they may appoint the packaging supplier (converters or importers) to join a PRO (dual system) on their behalf. The latest draft adds that in this case a retailers must declare that he markets only service packaging that is compliant. The initial draft required the retailer to register.
  • the entity to assume producer obligations for shipping packaging which is packed by a fulfilment service provider should be distributor who contracted the fulfilment service provider. Presently the fulfilment service provider is considered producer.
Introducing financial transparency requirement for PROs a minimum requirement on EPR
The draft aims to transpose the minimum requirements on EPR. While PROs (‘dual system’) remain subject to unspecified approval from the state (Land) in which they are legally established, the draft proposes to require them to disclose financial information to the central authority ZSVR annually. The ZSVR thus could inform the state authorities for example of an impending insolvency.

The minimum financial data proposed for mandatory disclosure are a) available financial resources including bank balances, approved overdrafts and loans; c) funds and assets available as collateral; c) working capital; d) relevant costs including for means of transport, land, buildings, equipment and vehicles, e) liabilities; and f) taxes and social security contribution. The ZSVR is authorised to specify detailed forms and to request supporting documentation issued by a bank or an auditor. (revised §18, new §14.4)

Czech Republic - Long awaited revised waste legislation published and in force - 08 Jan 2021

A bundle of four Acts published before Christmas transposes the EU CEP.  It includes a new Act on EoL products which regulates PROs extensively and requires the costs of WEEE management to be shown separately on invoices of new EEE.

On 1-Dec-20, after a six-year of search for consensus, the Chamber of Deputies approved a bundle of four Acts that revise the country’s waste legislation and transpose the CEP. The Acts were published on 23-Dec-20 and entered into force from 1-Jan-21. They are: -
  • a new Waste Act 541/2020, which no longer contains EPR provisions. It applies to EoL products only after their handover to a treatment facility for other purposes than the preparation for the re-use and for cross-border transport;
  • a new Act on EoL Products 542/2020, which contains and revises the EPR provisions of the previous Waste Act. These EPR provisions apply to EEE, batteries, tires and vehicles, but not to packaging;
  • an Act amending other acts 543/2020 in connection with the two new Acts above;
  • an Act amending the Packaging Act 545/2020.
The new Act on EoL Products 
The EoL Act contains and revises the EPR provisions of the previous Waste Act. These EPR provisions apply to EEE, batteries, tires and vehicles, but not to packaging. Major changes: -

PROs for EEE, batteries, and tyres (Part II, Title VI): Almost 20% of the Act (8.4k of 44k words) lay out governance requirements and administrative rules for PROs, probably the most extensive of any country and a lesson from the significant market distortions surrounding WEEE PROs from 2006 to beyond 2016: 
  • Numerous provisions should ensure that PROs are established and remain controlled only by legitimate producers of the products the PRO covers;
  • A PRO may not be active in reprocessing, but it may be engaged in collection, sorting and transport. A PRO may also not establish or participate in the activities of another legal entity to ensure conflicts of interests as regards prohibited activities or otherwise are avoided.
  • Clear rules are introduced for revoking an authorization, as well as for the distribution of the funds of a terminated PRO, including its financial reserves.
Take-back of EoL products (Part II, Title II): The Act seeks to ensure that the EPR take-back regime is fully controlled by producers, respectively PROs, by
  • giving them control of the system of collection points for EoL products and allowing end users to hand EoL products only to the last seller – which must return WEEE to producers – or to a person designated by the producer;
  • giving them ownership of an EoL product when it is handed over at a collection point;
  • mandating that all producers/PROs have access on a non-discriminatory basis to a municipal collection system that takes back EoL products.
Interface between PROs and municipalities, and clearing between PROs: The Act does not require PROs to join a coordination center or clearing agreement. However, it implicitly requires an agreement between PROs about fair access to municipal collection systems: A producer/PRO may enter into contract with a municipality about the use of its waste management system only if this contract does not prevent use agreements with other producers on non-discriminatory terms (§ 16). The ownership of an EoL product handed over to a take-back point controlled by several PROs is ‘governed by [the] agreement’ of the PROs that established (or contacted) the collection point (§ 14(2)).

Special provisions for EEE (Part II, Title VII): In addition to the WEEE provisions of the expired Waste Act, the EoL Act also includes the provisions - partly revised - of WEEE Decree 352/2005, which is repealed by the EoL Act.  Notable changes as regards EEE are:
  • The introduction of a mandatory visible fee for all EEE: From 1-Jan-21, the producer, the distributor and last seller (retailer) of any EEE - non-household included - must state the costs of take-back, processing, use and disposal of WEEE per unit or per kg of EEE on a separate line before VAT on the tax document (invoice). These costs may not exceed the estimated costs known to producer at the time of POM and – for collective compliers – shall be recycling fees paid to the PRO (Art. 73).  Note: The Act does not require the costs to be shown on anything else but the invoice. In the absence of implementing rules (which might still change this), PROs are likely to advise their producer clients differently, leading once again to a fragmented implementation of the visible fee provision: For memory, under the now expired Waste Act 185/2001 Art. 37n(4) a visible fee was only mentioned with regard to household EEE:  Producers were not obligated to show a visible fee, but if they chose to do so, each entity in the distribution chain to the end-user had to do the same. Key PROs (Asekol and Elektrowin) required or recommended their producer clients to show the fee, others did not, and by 2016 most retailers no longer showed fees to end-users.
  • Take back: The 1:1 take-back obligation newly applies to non-household WEEE since 1-Jan-21.
The Amendment to the Packaging Act
The amendment notably: -
  • introduces the concept of authorized representatives (AR) for packaging;
  • revises the small producer exemption, applying to producers with an annual packaging POM below 300 kg and a turnover below CZK 25 m (previously CZK 4.5 m)
  • maintains the separate targets for household packaging indefinitely (recycling 50%, recovery 55%);
  • revises reporting requirements in alignment with CEP requirements. Note: Single PRO EKO-KOM system already prepared a new packaging decaration, to be first used for Q1-21; 2021 recycling fees increase by an average 9%.  
The new Waste Act
The new waste Act was issued in the context of having to increase the MSW recycling rate from 41% in 2019 to 55% in 2025. It i.a. enables municipalities to charge households for waste services on a volume basis (pay-as you throw).

Implementing Decrees
The new Acts stipulate a number of implementing decrees which the MoE is currently drafting: -
  • The Waste Act notably requires a 'Decree on the Waste Catalog and Evaluation of Their Hazardous Properties' – publication expected mid-Jan-20 – and a Decree on Details of Waste Management (draft) – publication expected soon.
  • The Act on EoL Products will be complemented by a Decree on EoL Products (WEEE, waste batteries, tires) for which the inter-ministerial commenting procedure is scheduled in Jan-21, and a Decree on ELVs.
  • The amended Packaging Act will be complemented by one implementing decree.

EU Institutions - EU 'tax' on unrecycled plastic packaging waste in force - 06 Jan 2021

A Dec-20 Council Decision confirms the EU’s system of own resources and clarifies the 'tax' on unrecycled plastic packaging waste.

On 14-Dec-20 the European Council adopted Council Decision (EU, Euratom) 2020/2053 which revises the system of the EU’s own resources.  In Jul-20 the Council had agreed the outline of the system – which newly includes a 'tax' (technically a fee) on unrecycled plastic packaging waste.

With regards to the 'tax' on unrecycled plastic packaging waste, the Decision: -
  • maintains the ‘tax’ at EUR 800 per tonne on unrecycled plastic packaging waste [irrespective of whether or not a member state achieves the packaging recycling target set by the Packaging Directive];
  • clarifies that ‘packaging waste’ and ‘recycling’ have the meaning defined in the Packaging Directive, and that the weight of unrecycled plastic packaging waste is ‘the difference between the weight of the plastic packaging waste generated … and the weight of the plastic packaging waste recycled’ in a given year;
  • adds a lumpsum reduction to the ‘tax’ contribution of Member States whose GNI per capita was below the EU average in 2017. The reduction corresponds to 3.8 kg unrecycled plastic x 2017 population x the ‘tax’ rate of EUR 0.8 per kg. It is set as follows:
    • Bulgaria: EUR 22 m
    • Czechia: EUR 32 m
    • Estonia: EUR 4 m
    • Greece: EUR 33 m
    • Spain: EUR 142 m
    • Croatia: EUR 13 m
    • Italy: EUR 184 m
    • Cyprus: EUR 3 m
    • Latvia: EUR 6 m
    • Lithuania: EUR 9 m
    • Hungary: EUR 30 m
    • Malta: EUR 1.4 m
    • Poland: EUR 117 m
    • Portugal: EUR 31.3 m
    • Romania: EUR 60 m
    • Slovenia: EUR 6.3 m
    • Slovakia: EUR 17 m
The sum of the reduction is about EUR 712 million, or about 10-15% of total estimated contributions from the ‘tax’.

France - Repairability Index brought into force despite Single Market concerns - 05 Jan 2021

By informing consumers about the ability to repair a product, the Repairability Index - introduced now for seven types of EEE - should influence purchase decisions and ultimately extend the life span of EEE.

Nine legal texts published on 31-Dec-20 introduce the Repairability Index from 1-Jan-21 for certain EEE as stipulated by the Feb-20 AGEC Law (Art. 16-I): -
  • A Decree on Repairability Index for EEE;
  • An Order setting General Parameters and Methods of Displaying the Index;
  • Seven orders setting parameters for specific products: washing machines, laptops, mobile phones, TVs and 3 types of electric lawnmowers: corded, battery operated and robotic.
The Repairability Index reflects five criteria on a single scale to 10
The Repairability Index will be given as a score out of 10 and calculated using 5 criteria, each of which has equal weighting in the calculation: -
  1. Access to repair information, taking into account the duration of availability of technical documentation relating to maintenance advice;
  2. Dismantlability of the product, taking into account the number of dismantling steps, the tools needed - common, specific, proprietary - and fastenings used (removable and reusable).
  3. Availability of spare parts and their delivery times, linked to the rating of criteria 2 above: If a part can’t be dismantled, the 0 rating would impact the rating of a ‘spare part’ - even if one was available. Spare parts are classified into two lists:
    • ‘List 2’ includes three to five spare parts which break down most frequently.
    • ‘List 1’ includes at most ten other parts necessary for functioning the operation of the equipment.
  4. The price ratio of spare parts to the equipment, taking into account the price of the most expensive spare part in list 2 and the average price of other parts in that list. Prices used exclude tax.
  5. Product specific criteria:
    • Washing machines and TVs: accessibility of the usage meter, free remote assistance - taking into account whether information, diagnostic and/or repair assistance can be provided remotely - and the possibility of a soft reset.
    • Laptops and mobile phones: information on the nature of updates (corrective for bugs or security flaws, evolving, scalable, or mixed), free remote assistance and the possibility of a soft reset.
    • Corded lawnmowers: free remote assistance.
    • Battery operated lawnmowers: free remote assistance and using a multi-use battery.
    • Robotic lawnmowers: free remote assistance, using a multi-use battery and possibility of a soft reset.
Who calculates, and who must show the Index?
Producers or importers must calculate the Index on the basis of a self-assessment at the time of first placing a product on the national market. They must communicate the Index in a dematerialized format (i.e. online) to distributors or sellers when the product is listed and when the equipment is delivered. The index score may also be affixed directly to each item of equipment or its packaging.

Sellers must present the Index in store ‘in a visible manner, on each item of equipment offered for sale, or in the immediate vicinity’.  For online sales, the index must be displayed ‘in a visible manner in the presentation of the equipment and close to its price’.

Signage: The Index should be shown using the logo specified in the decree in a color sale from red – equalling a score of 0 to 1.9 – to dark green – indicating a score of 8 or above.  The font size should be at least equal to that of the product price indication. Details of the scores for each of the five criteria must be made available ‘by any appropriate process’.

Implementation status and enforcement
As of 5-Jan-20, there is no trace of the Index in online stores (and reportedly also offline stores) of major French electronics retailers (Darty, Boulanger, FNAC). For the time being there are no sanctions for non-compliance. The Index is expected to be rolled out gradually throughout 2021.

Industry concerns about the Index
On 5-Oct-20, electronics industry association DIGITALEUROPE expressed strong concerns about the Index notably as regards its potential to further fragment the Single Market. DIGITALEUROPE called on the European Commission to: -
  • request France to postpones the Index to give businesses chance to adapt and to take into account further developments at EU level, e.g. the announced EU proposal on ‘empowering consumers for the green transition’;
  • assess the compatibility of the Index with maintaining the integrity of the Single Market;
  • seek assurance from the French government that the Index will be revised if needed in view of the ongoing EU policy and legislative proposals.
Complementary French measures to support the repair of products
In addition to the AGEC Law introduces other measures to facilitate repair in view of extending the lifespan of products: -
  • From Jan-22, a manufacturer or importer will have to provide essential spare parts requested by a professional seller or repairer, approved or not, within 15 working days, from currently 2 month (AGEC Law Art 19.3 changes Art. L111-4 of the Consumer Code);
  • By Jan-23, EPR sectors – PROs and individual compliers - will have establish repair funds to participate in the financing of repair costs of certified repairers to reduce repair costs for consumers, , as part of their waste prevention objective (L. 541-10). The the minimum funding and conditions for use are yet to be determined by Decree (AGEC Law Art 62 changes Art. L. 541-10-4 of the Environmental Code);
  • From Jan-24 a Durability Index is to complement the Repairability Index (Art 16-II* of the AGEC Law). The indices may eventually be merged into a Sustainability Index.  
*The AGEC Law Article 16 reads as follows: "After article L. 541-9 of the environment code, an article L. 541-9-2 is inserted as follows:  “Art. L. 541-9-2.

I. [Repairability Index] - Producers, importers, distributors or other marketers of electrical and electronic equipment communicate free of charge to the sellers of their products as well as to any person who requests it an 'index of repairability of this equipment as well as the parameters used to establish it. This index aims to inform the consumer about the ability to repair the product concerned.

Sellers of electrical and electronic equipment as well as those using a website, a platform or any other online distribution channel as part of their commercial activity in France shall inform the consumer free of charge, at the time of the act of purchase, by marking, labeling, display or by any other appropriate process, of the repairability index of this equipment. The manufacturer or importer is responsible for making this information available to the public electronically, in an easily reusable format and usable by an automated processing system in an aggregated form. Centralized access to this data can be set up by the administrative authority in accordance with procedures specified by decree. The seller also provides the consumer with the parameters that have made it possible to establish the product's repairability index, by any appropriate process.

A decree in Council of State defines the terms of application of this I according to the categories of electrical and electronic equipment, in particular the criteria and the method of calculation retained for the establishment of the index. The criteria used to develop the repairability index necessarily include the price of the spare parts necessary for the proper functioning of the product and, whenever this is relevant, the presence of a usage meter visible to the consumer.

II. [Durability Index]  As of January 1, 2024, producers or importers of certain products communicate free of charge to sellers and to any person who requests it the durability index of these products, and the parameters used to establish it. This index notably includes new criteria such as reliability and robustness of the product and complements or replaces the repairability index provided for in I of this article when it exists.

The sellers of the products concerned as well as those using a website, a platform or any other online distribution channel as part of their commercial activity in France shall inform the consumer free of charge, at the time of the purchase of the good, by marking, labeling, display or by any other appropriate process of the durability index of these products. The seller also provides the consumer with the parameters which have made it possible to establish the product's durability index, by any appropriate process.

A Council of State decree establishes the list of products and equipment concerned as well as the methods of application of this II.” 

[Note: In accordance with article 130, these provisions come into force on January 1, 2021.]

News from Industry

  • Waitrose ranks top supermarket for single-use plastics reduction; Waitrose has topped the EIA (Environmental Investigation Agency) and Greenpeace table of UK supermarkets for efforts to reduce plastics across its shops and products for the second year in a row.
    The report states that Waitrose reported an absolute plastic reduction of 6.1% since 2017 across both its own-brand and branded ranges – the lowest plastic use per unit market share of the supermarkets, while also highlighting its refillable pilot scheme.
  • Viridor to work with Carbon Capture and Storage Association in ‘sector first’; Viridor has announced that it has become the first in its sector to join the Carbon Capture and Storage Association (CCSA), emphasising the company’s commitment to pursuing net zero goals. The CCSA was established to ensure that carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) is recognised as an essential solution to deliver net zero emissions across the economy. It is working to develop long-term commercial models that will establish a number of CCUS clusters to deliver clean regional growth and the industry transition to a low-carbon economy.
  • Construction starts on £100m recycling facilities at Edmonton EcoPark; Major works start this month at Edmonton EcoPark to bring forward brand new recycling facilities as part of North London Waste Authority’s (NLWA) plan for a new sustainable waste hub – the North London Heat and Power Project (NLHPP). Over the next two years, NLWA’s contractor Taylor Woodrow will construct a Resource Recovery Facility (RRF), which will be one of the largest publicly owned facilities of its kind in London with capacity to manage 135,000 tonnes of recyclable material every year, as well as a public Reuse and Recycling Centre, allowing north London residents and businesses to bring their recycling direct to the EcoPark for the first time ever.
  • Food suppliers face economic ‘cliff edge’’, say trade associations; Food manufacturers supplying the hospitality and healthcare markets are facing a financial cliff edge unless they receive urgent support from government, says a coalition of 18 trade associations.
  • World’s largest climate poll shows majority of people want ‘wide-ranging action’; Delivered by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with the University of Oxford, the poll covers 50 countries and includes over half of the world’s population, including over half a million people under the age of 18.
  • Defra updates Waste Management Plan for England; The Resources and Waste Strategy (RWS) sets out the government’s vision for moving to a more circular economy and its Waste Management Plan for England (WMP) is an integral component of this, focussing on waste arisings and their management.
  • Suffolk waste and recycling vehicles go ‘bananas’; Can playful messaging targeting the most commonly wasted food items cut household waste? Trewin Restorick looks at how a Hubbub partnership is looking to do just that.
  • This new delay to the Environment Bill now threatens the government’s green credentials; This is meant to be a year of environmental ambition. In November, the prime minister announced his plan for a green industrial revolution, while COP President Alok Sharma’s recurring message is that “…urgent action is the only way to meet our [climate] goal”.
  • PM urged to set legally binding targets to cut plastic pollution; Businesses, MPs, faith leaders, academics and campaigning organisations are calling on the Prime Minister to introduce legally binding targets to stem plastic pollution.
  • ‘Red wall’ swing voters support strong food regulations and standards; The UK’s departure from the EU has triggered a number of deregulatory pronouncements from Number 10. Boris Johnson’s recent recent call to business leaders to help identify regulatory flotsam for the scrapheap (a suggestion not greeted with much approval by the business community) was followed by last week’s announcement of a new Better Regulation Committee, tasked with cutting EU red tape for businesses.
  • Heinz replaces plastic with paperboard on multipacks; Heinz has replaced plastic on all of its multipack canned products with convenient & skinny cardboard sleeves, a solution that’s part of the company’s £25m investment in sustainability.
  • The role of packaging in reducing avoidable food waste; Philip Simpson, commercial director at ReFood, discusses why packaging innovation is key to reducing household food waste volumes.
  • Report: Plastic waste going into landfill could be cut to 1% by 2030; Plastic waste ending up in landfill sites could reduce to only 1%, representing a 94% reduction, according to a British Plastics Federation (BPF) report.
    The British Plastics Federation (BPF) has released a roadmap suggesting how the UK recycling industry could expand over the next ten years, more than tripling the amount of plastic waste recycled in UK facilities, if the right drivers are in place.
  • UK criticised for not following EU over plastic waste export ban; The Basel Action Network (BAN) says it was ‘shocked’ that the UK has adopted a ‘far weaker control procedure’ over plastic waste exports following its EU exit. 
    From January 1 the EU has prohibited the export of the category of plastic waste known as Y48 to non-OECD countries.
  • First medicine packet recycling programme launches for UK pharmacies; The UK’s first medicine packet recycling programme is being rolled out across pharmacies nationwide.
    The ‘Little Packs, Big Impact’ initiative, is a partnership with recycling innovators TerraCycle which allows customers to recycle any empty prescription and over-the-counter medicine blister packets, simply and freely, by dropping them in dedicated bins the next time they visit their local participating pharmacy.  The empty blister packaging will then be converted into reusable raw materials using a unique recycling process – preventing blister packs spending a lifetime in landfill.
  • 2020 saw highest ever level of aluminium packaging collected for recycling; According to preliminary figures released by the Environment Agency earlier this week (11 January), the volume of aluminium packaging collected for recycling in the UK reached its highest ever level in 2020.
    While reprocessors and exporters have until the end of the month to report their final annual tonnage, data from the National Packaging Waste Database (NPWD) highlights that 145,035 tonnes of aluminium packaging was collected for recycling in the UK last year* – a 24% increase compared to 2019 and exceeding the 2020 target by more than 26%.  
  • £6m investment for plastic replacement start-up Xampla; University of Cambridge spin-out Xampla has announced that it has closed a £6.2m seed finance round, led by the backers of Zoom, to accelerate the roll-out of its next generation plastic replacement.
  • Ex-ACP chair Conran receives OBE in New Year’s honours list; The former chairman of the government’s Advisory Committee on Packaging (ACP), Phil Conran, has been recognised in the New Year’s honours list.
  • Was 2020 a green ‘super year’ for the UK?; At the start of last year, 2020 was heralded by world leaders, green campaigners and businesses alike as a ‘super year’ for the environment and a ‘make or break year’ for lining up climate and nature action in the new decade. The coronavirus pandemic, of course, has severely disrupted how we hoped the year would pan out, namely in the postponement of the UN biodiversity summit (COP15) and the Glasgow climate summit (COP26). However, despite those COP shaped holes, there has still been movement on climate globally, with Japan, China, the EU and South Korea – covering almost half of global emissions – following the UK’s lead to make mid-century net zero targets, and the US is likely to follow suit once President-elect Joe Biden takes office. 
  • Brexit: UK and EU agree 12-month grace period on rules of origin paperwork; UK companies exporting into the EU will not have to complete paperwork certifying that their goods are locally made until 2022, reducing the burden of red tape facing many industries.
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