Packaging waste recovery targets may increase significantly by 2006

The European Commission last week began discussions on the revision of the Packaging Waste Directive, with significant increases in minimum recovery targets and an end to maximum targets on the negotiating table.

Talks on the revision of the Directive began in Brussels last Thursday, with discussion of a working document from the Environment Directorate, DGXI. This document proposes that the minimum target for recovery of all packaging waste be raised from 50% to the current maximum limit of 65%, and that the minimum proportion of this recovered waste that should actually be recycled should be raised from 25% to the present maximum recycling quota of 45%.

The document also questions whether there is still a case for setting maximum targets. These are currently intended to prevent potential market distortions through some countries setting much higher limits than others, but DGXI is considering removing them altogether.

A spokesman for DGXI told edie that while these figures are currently under debate, they should be treated with some caution, as the discussions are only just beginning and much will depend on the opinions of the various member states. Internal discussions will continue, and a proposal is likely to be published towards the end of this year.

Energy recovery

In a related development, DGXI is considering introducing legislation that would make a distinction between recovery and incineration with energy recovery. At present, waste incinerated with some form of energy recovery is qualified as “recovery” rather than “disposal” regardless of the amount of energy recovered.

This could have a significant effect on compliance with the Packaging Waste Directive, where the majority of the recovery quota is currently accounted for by incineration with energy recovery, a DGXI spokesman told edie.

According to ENDS Daily, DGXI is currently considering either disallowing all incineration from counting as recovery or, more likely, setting a calorific limit so that only the incineration of high-energy wastes such as oils, plastics or solvents would count as recovery.

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