European plastic resin producers say they are opposed to adoption of a resin and recycling code for all packaging materials. The European Commission, the governing body of the 15-member European Union of countries, proposed such a system in a recent directive aimed at standardizing practices in the packaging industry throughout the continent.
The directive was issued this month, but is subject to approval by member states. Among other provisions, the directive calls for a system of voluntary abbreviations and symbols to be included on each package identifying materials, and indicating whether they are reusable, recyclable or recoverable.
The plan is to be considered by the Union's Council of Ministers at its Dec. 18-19 meeting. Industry representatives already have voiced opposition.
``On the whole, we oppose the establishment of such a system,'' said Nancy Russotto, director general of the Association of Plastic Manufacturers in Europe, a Brussels, Belgium-based organization representing European resin makers.
``Our primary objection is that the system would not coincide with the system already in use in the United States, and that system of identification should be the same worldwide,'' she said in a telephone interview.
She referred to the resin identification code of numbers and letters surrounded by the ``chasing arrow'' logo, now used on most rigid packages in 39 states in the United States. The code was developed by the Society of the Plastic Industry Inc. of Washington, but applies only to rigid plastic packaging and not films.
The proposed rule would apply to all packaging materials and calls for materials - such as glass, metal and paper - to be identified, as well as the method by which they are to be reused or recovered after primary use.
Russotto said some industries oppose the material identification as unnecessary, since it is evident whether materials are glass, plastic or metal. When they are plastic, a further notation still is needed to designate the type of plastic.
Under current European packaging directives, she said, all plastic packaging is recycled either mechanically, as feedstocks, or to produce energy, so the system would be superfluous.
Likewise, she said, labeling packaging as recoverable, recyclable, or reusable is redundant because all three are required.
Commission officials, however, said the system would give priority to materials labeled reusable or recyclable, and make them preferable in terms of environmental impact.