Formal EU packaging plan "due by April"

Commission stresses legal requirement to get directive revision proposal on the table soon

The European Commission is set to formally propose changes to EU packaging waste law as early as next month, according to participants at a meeting of member state representatives held in Brussels last week. Considerable uncertainty surrounds what exactly the proposal will contain, with some observers predicting tough talking within the Commission before anything emerges.

Under the 1994 packaging directive, member states are bound to achieve 50-65% recovery and 25-45% recycling of packaging waste by the end of June 2001, by which time the EU should also approve "substantially increased" targets for 2006. Now under time pressure to meet this legislative deadline, the Commission's environment department released its latest thoughts on how to proceed in December (ENDS Daily 9 December 1999).

Though all sides agree that the directive's revision is the "burning issue" surrounding EU packaging law, last week's meeting saw no discussion of it beyond a short presentation from Commission officials. According to participants, officials said they would seek to get a legislative proposal formally adopted by April, and confirmed that the scope of the proposal would be limited to changes to the directive's recovery and recycling targets, with a broader revision to be undertaken at a later date. All eyes are now on the Commission to see what its proposal will contain.

At last week's meeting, the main topic of discussion concerned possible derogations on the presence of heavy metals in glass. Under the directive, these must be restricted to no more than 100 parts per million by 30 June 2001, and member states discussed proposals to allow derogations for recycled glass and decorated glass. ENDS Daily understands that the Commission is now likely to make a proposal to cover recycled glass. It is not clear whether it will do the same for decorated glass, with some member states against making an exception.

Follow Up:
European Commission, tel: +32 2 299 1111.

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