The document, which is not a draft proposal but simply a discussion paper, has been criticised by the European business lobby group Unice and others for its suggestions on how to increase the percentage of EU packaging waste that must be recovered or recycled.

The working document outlines two options. The first would set recycling and recovery targets at 60% and 90% respectively with a deadline of 2006. The second option would abandon recovery targets altogether and focus on recycling – with differentiated levels based on material.

Both options are unacceptable according to Unice whose main argument is that the impacts of the first five years of the Packaging Waste Directive have not been adequately measured. Unice says that the absence of accurate data from member states makes an extension of the directive untenable.
Unice recommends that any changes to the directive should avoid specific, deadline-based increases for recovery and recycling and instead focus on the need for a more vaguely defined notion of continuous ‘improvement’.

A non-specific revision of the directive is not possible, according to an EC official. “The requirement to revise [after the directive has been in force for five years] is contained within the directive and the words are ‘substantial revision'”, an EC official told edie. “The EC is just trying to do its job by beginning work on this revision. Whether there exists the political will for change is another question.”

Although response from industry at this early stage has been negative and a schedule for revision negotiations has yet to be set, there is still hope that the interim revision will be a success. “Industry is just one of the actors of the packaging chain,” says the EC official. “We also have to take into consideration the opinions of consumers, member state administrations and environmental NGOs.”

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