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Circular Economy legislation to roll out across the EU

Circular Economy legislation to roll out across the EU

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by Sam Smith, June 2018
Sam assists companies to identify their legal exposure to national WEEE, Batteries and Packaging legislation across Europe and in countries where the company is obligated, assesses the company’s sales arrangements and product types to provide cost-effective and legally-robust recommendations for compliance.
On 18th December 2017, representatives of the “trilogue” (EU Parliament, Commission and Council) confirmed a new initiative to promote a circular economy within the EU. The Circular Economy Package (CEP) has now been formally adopted and will introduce amendments to the Directives on Waste, Packaging Waste, WEEE, Waste Batteries and Landfill. The CEP is yet to be formally adopted by the Council, but following this, the package will come into force on the twentieth day after publication in the Official Journal and must be transposed into national law within 24 months of this date.

Packaging producers take note

The CEP introduces new measures on a number of topics (full list here), including: a commitment to review the environmental Directives, improved hazardous substance management and a measure which should cause packaging producers to take note; an obligation on Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Schemes to cover distance sales of packaging, similar to that seen for electronic products in the WEEE Recast Directive. This could mean producers of packaging who are selling their packaged goods directly to end users across country borders will start having to put in place compliance arrangements for these activities. At present, it is unclear if producers will be allowed to voluntarily join foreign schemes for distance sales where they were not previously able to do so, or whether distance sales will become an EU wide obligated activity similar to WEEE. If you would like to stay up-to-date on any developments in this area you can join EC4P’s mailing list using the form below.

The Circular Economy in France

France is the first country in the EU which has taken steps to implement legislation to meet the CEP and in fact goes beyond this by introducing a ‘Circular Economy Roadmap’, encompassing 50 new measures. The roadmap implements the ambitious aims of the 2015 Law on Energy Transition for Green Growth (LTECV), including the target of halving waste sent to landfill and recycling 100% of plastic by 2025. The 50 new measures will be gradually introduced across WEEE, Batteries and Packaging to better the production, consumption and waste management in France. The diverse measures promote all aspects of a circular economy and a few of the flagship measures are described below.

From 2020, a label must be used to indicate if a household electrical product can be repaired. This simple label should make it possible for consumers to quickly identify if product can be repaired, thus extending its life and reducing waste. 

To tackle packaging waste, within the next 5 years all French citizens should be able to recycle all types of packaging (i.e. Packaging material) in the same way. This is to include the further use of the ‘Triman’ logo, removing the ‘Green Dot Symbol’ and coordinating the colour of garbage bins throughout France with the corresponding waste stream. Furthermore, to improve the collection of plastic bottles and cans, particularly in areas where collection rates are currently low, a new generation of ‘solidarity deposits’ will be trailed. In this system, revenues from the sale of collected materials will be spent to improve environmental and social health.

The far reaching measures also extend to adapting taxation to make waste recovery cheaper than disposal. By reducing the VAT rate for recycling and by increasing the rates of the general tax on polluting activities for landfilling and incineration it is hoped that municipalities which promote a circular economy will see their waste management costs fall.