Manufacturers call for limit to amount of packaging to landfill instead of recycling targets

The European Commission should abandon its strategy of increasing the targets of packaging waste being recycled and recovered, and instead set a limit on how much packaging waste can be sent to landfill, says an association representing packaging manufacturers and users.

The European Recovery & Recycling Association (ERRA) has proposed a system whereby package waste disposal rates could be frozen at a specific year – ERRA suggests 2001 – as a way of putting an end to “sterile” negotiations with the EC over targets for recycling and recovery percentages.

ERRA represents manufacturers and users of packaging. Its members include Coca-Cola, Pepsi-Cola, Tetra Pak and Proctor Gamble.

“It has taken a lot of work to get to a certain level of success,” Jacques Fonteyne, of ERRA, told edie, acknowledging that packaging waste disposal levels have dropped in the EU despite economic growth. Now the EC needs to ask “What should we really achieve in the end?”.

ERRA believes that a limit on packaging waste to landfill would allow all EU member states to continue to make progress, based on their specific domestic waste challenges. “Our proposal is to build something that will work for many years to come,” said Fonteyne. “It’s really an indicator.”

A limit on packaging waste to landfill would also simplify matters and make compliance easier to measure. “Right now, a country may have very fancy figures on recycling and recovery, but there is still a lot of packaging waste going to disposal,” said Fonteyne.

ERRA is also insistent that the EC enter into real discussions with stakeholders on the issue of packaging waste. “We are sticking to our conviction that no one person in a cubicle can decide on the future,” said Fonteyne. ERRA wants “structured dialogue” to begin between the EC and all stakeholders. “Then, our proposal is only one contribution to a dialogue”.

ERRA has also published its report on 1997 packaging waste recovery and recycling within the EU. It states that: “the nature of the current measurements of total packaging use, recovery and recycling and their obvious inaccuracy and non-comparability raises questions regarding their value as monitoring tools for the implementation of a directive on limiting the environmental effects of packaging.” The report suggests that “the monitoring of packaging waste quantity in residual waste may present, if actually measured and not calculated, a better assessment of directive goals fulfilment. Even with calculated figures, it has the merit to place the specific recovery achievement of some countries in a new perspective”.

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