EEB brands Commission’s packaging standards ‘inadequate’

The Commission has given the green light for packaging standards to be used by industry to meet EU packaging waste law requirements, even though the same standards were rejected as inadequate four years ago.

Following this announcement, the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) has called on the EC and Member States to dismiss the standards because they encourage industry to increase packaging volumes rather than supporting recyclability, innovation and waste efficiency and minimisation.

“The Commission has failed to ensure sufficient quality and discredited the idea of delegating technical aspects of environmental policies to standardisation,” said EEB member and chair of the European Environmental Citizen’s Organisation for Standardisation (ECOS).

“Instead of creating an ambitious and enforceable level playing field for Europe’s industry, Member States are now forced to develop piecemeal solution to meet their legal requirements.”

The standards, developed by the industry-dominated European Committee for Standardisation (CEN), are the second attempt to elaborate useful standards to enable enforcement agencies to steer the packaging industry towards using more recyclable and reusable packaging.

According to the EEB, however, they will fail because the standards allow:

  • Companies to use arguments such as presentation (eg; “it has to look bigger than it is”) to justify unnecessary packaging
  • Companies to produce so-called “refill pouches”, claiming that they are reusable when in fact it is a one-way throwaway packet
  • Packaging with any percentage of recyclable materials to be called “recyclable”, including items made of up to 50% inert materials or PVC

    EEB waste policy officer Melissa Shinn said that, by publishing these standards, the Commission had failed to do its job as a regulator and ensure that the packaging directive provided the right enforcement tools that are not violating the objectives of the packaging waste directive.

    “The ten year experiment on using the private standardisation bodies to set environmental requirements has failed,” she stated. “The Commission needs to admit that and revise its approach and the packaging directive as soon as possible.”

    By Jane Kettle

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