Aluminium firms see risk in EU laws

Sector objects to packaging directive revision, worries about EU-wide energy taxes

European aluminium firms have joined a chorus of industry disapproval at European Commission plans to strengthen recovery and recycling targets for packaging in a planned revision of the 1994 packaging directive. The sector has also restated its opposition to the introduction of EU-wide energy taxes.

Speaking at the industry's annual sector review in Brussels today, European Aluminium Association (EAA) chief Kurt Wolfensberger claimed that "more is not always best," in recycling since marginal costs could increase steeply if the Commission imposed a "sharp increase" in packaging waste recovery and recycling targets.

The European Commission is obliged under the terms of the current packaging directive to propose new recovery and recycling targets before the end of this year. Earlier this year it emerged that the executive's environment directorate was suggesting increasing minimum packaging recovery rates from 50% to 65% effective from 2006, and recycling rates from 25% to 45% (ENDS Daily 16 March).

The EAA is also opposed to any attempt to distinguish between reuse and recycling and give the former a higher priority. "From a life-cycle approach, there is no reason whatsoever to support a distinction," said Mr Wolfensberger. "Promotion of reuse will not make a significant contribution to sustainable development," he continued.

Turning to plans to introduce EU-wide energy taxation, Mr Wolfensberger stressed that aluminium firms were opposed to "any fiscal or regulatory measures in this field at EU level". Energy taxes would not reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the industry, and the additional fiscal burden would weaken the competitiveness of the industry "with dramatic consequences for employment and investment in the EU," he concluded.

Mr Wolfensberger claimed that greater use of aluminium in the transport industry – which is now the industry's leading market sector - could make a "major contribution" to sustainable development. He said the average weight of vehicles could be reduced by 30-50% in coming years by increasing the number of aluminium components. This would help to cut greenhouse gas emissions by up to 20%, through reducing fuel consumption, he said.

Follow Up:
European Aluminium Association, tel: +32 2 779 0531.

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