The European Organisation for Packaging and the Environment (Europen) has welcomed a sweeping ban on single-use plastics by the European Parliament, but voiced concern over certain elements that it said “have not been adequately examined.”
The European Parliament overwhelmingly voted on a measure Oct. 24 that will ban items such as disposable plastic plates, straws and cotton swabs that use plastic stems by 2021.
Under a directive submitted by the European Commission at the end of May, further recycling measures will be taken across the region to ensure that 90 percent of plastic bottles are recycled by 2025.
While welcoming harmonized action to address the plastics waste, Europen said it regretted the removal of internal market safeguards.
“This will weaken policy coherence with other EU rules on waste and packaging,” Eutopen said in an Oct. 24 statement.
The directive, Europen has noted, does not reflect the principals of ‘better regulation” and offers differing legal interpretations at EU and national level.
For instance, the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive's Article 114 is based on protecting the free circulation of packaged goods in the EU. The legal basis for the ban, however, is Article 192 TFEU on environmental protection.
“The PPWD, with its harmonized ‘essential requirements,' should remain the sole appropriate legislation governing design and marking requirements applicable to all packaging,” Virginia Janssens, Europen managing director, said.
“Likewise," she added, “the Waste Framework Directive should remain the only legal text to address producers' extended responsibility, in line with nationally defined roles and responsibilities of players. Incentives should be placed on all value chain partners, based on what each actor can control, to ensure cost-effective results. This should be no different for measures related to litter clean up.”
According to Europen Chairman Hans van Bochove, the lack of legal clarity will undermine significant investments made through the years in the packaging supply chain, the collection and sorting of wastes.
“Legal clarity is essential to underpin these investments, but is lacking in this instance, for example with regard to which packaging falls under the single-use plastics scope and which not. In addition, design requirements with significant impact, such as the tethered caps proposal, should be based on established facts and a thorough impact assessment,” he said.
Europen has called on EU legislators to “take the time to evaluate carefully the real impacts of the legislative proposal on single-use plastics to ensure it delivers the intended environmental objectives in a harmonized EU Internal Market.”