Packaging industry fears more EU laws

EU association calls for industry unity against the threat of "bad legislation"

The European packaging industry is preparing itself for further EU legislation as an expected revision of the 1994 EU packaging directive approaches. Speaking at a conference in London last week, Julian Carroll of the European Organisation for Packaging and the Environment (Europen) revealed that a working group had been set up to prepare for possible changes to the directive.

Though the directive has still not been fully implemented by over half of EU member states, the European Commission is expected to propose a revision before 2001. The existing law has sparked widespread discontent in Europe's packaging chain, but any new law could well impose tougher requirements for separation, collection and recycling of packaging materials.

In a plea to the industry for unity, Mr Carroll said that "in the environmental debate the war is not between paper and plastic, or between glass and aluminium or the like. The enemy is bad legislation which, in the long term, is hurting us all."

The packaging industry had performed "very poorly" in the past in explaining the benefits of packaging, Mr Carroll said. It would have to devote more resources to delivering the "good news" to the public. "Expenditure aimed at telling the public about packaging when set against the financial risk of inappropriate legislation is frankly pathetic," he continued.

Adopted in 1994, the directive on packaging and packaging waste sets targets for the recovery and recycling of packaging waste in EU member states by 2001. Before this date, the Commission is expected to review the targets based on the practical experience of EU countries in pursuing these targets.

Europen believes that because of delays in implementing the directive and continuing differences between industry and the Commission over packaging standards, revision of the directive is likely to be put back at least a year. Nevertheless, the trade body is nervous that the Commission will broaden the review to include additional packaging waste targets.

"Expect things to get worse before they will get better", Mr Carroll told industry representatives last week. Interviewed by ENDS Daily today, Mr Carroll said that a European Commission official had recently hinted at new material content and individual sector targets. The packaging industry would oppose "even more specific targets," he said. "The more you segment waste, the greater the costs".

Follow Up:
Europen, tel: + 32 2 736 3600.

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