EUROPEN: ‘The EU court of Justice might have more related cases to handle’

European Commission takes Romania to court for failing to amend packaging waste legislation

By Jenny Eagle contact

- Last updated on GMT

One example of food packaging in Romania, Orkla Food Romania Wiesana margarine
One example of food packaging in Romania, Orkla Food Romania Wiesana margarine

Related tags: Packaging waste, European union

The European Commission is taking Romania to the EU Court of Justice over its failure to amend revised EU legislation on packaging waste into domestic law.

The revised Packaging Directive​ updates rules on packaging and packaging waste, with a view to reducing their impact on the environment.

Divergences & different speeds in European Member States

Member States had to bring into force the laws necessary to comply with this Directive by September, 30, 2013.

Virginia Janssens, MD, EUROPEN, the European Organization for packaging and the Environment told FoodProductionDaily, it is another illustration of the divergences and different speeds in European Member States when it comes to implementation of packaging and packaging waste management legislation.

For the upcoming Circular Economy Package it will be important to consider the Member States’ specificities in terms of existing and planned packaging waste legislation, management and related infrastructure​,” she said.

For instance, realistic packaging recycling targets will have to be set considering the different realities in the Member State​s.

Harmonized and clear definitions for recycling, packaging and for calculating national recycling rates would help all Member States in their monitoring, planning and enforcement, as well as industry players to benchmark their related sustainability achievements​.

A less complex and clear EU legislative framework should facilitate national implementation and enforcement, but also ease the heavy compliance obligations for industry​.”

Amending the list of examples of what constitutes packaging

The revised Packaging Waste Directive updates previous legislation, reviewing and amending the list of examples of what constitutes packaging to ensure legal certainty and to harmonise the interpretation of the definition of ‘packaging’.

The EU legislation is intended to prevent or reduce the impact of packaging on the environment and safeguards the functioning of the internal market by removing obstacles to trade, market distortion and restriction of competition. 

After it missed the original European Commission deadline, Romania was sent a letter of formal notice on November 29, 2013, followed by a reasoned opinion on July 11, 2014.

More than one year-and-a-half after the deadline, the Directive has still not been changed.

It is really about balancing ambitious but broader EU Circular Economy and Resource Efficiency objectives with realistic targets and legislation achievable for all 28 Member States​,” added Janssens.

If this balance is not achieved, the Commission’s infringement unit and the EU court of Justice might have many more related cases to handl​e.

EUROPEN has offered its recommendations to the European Commission for strengthened EU legislation in some areas like harmonized definitions, but also for minimum performance requirements for Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)​.

These EU requirements can then be implemented and tailored to national circumstances, and would support Member States, including Romania, to achieve higher transparency, accountability and enforcement for/on their respective packaging waste management systems​.”

Related topics: Processing & Packaging

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