Industry worries about growing fragmentation of the domestic market
The deadline for transposing EU-wide bans and marking rules into national legal frameworks was July 3, 2021. As Directive 2019 was rushed through, many provisions are unclear and require interpretation. Commission guidelines on the scope of the directive, published just four weeks before the deadline, provided little clarity for implementation.
“The margin of interpretation leads to unexpected biases, for example by banning fully recyclable plastics while excluding paper products coated with plastic in contradiction with the directive, and on the basis of the existing tolerance for contaminants in the programs EPR ”, said Oliver Van Volden, Expert Packaging and Circular Economy at essenscia PolyMatters.
For a few months now, essenscia, IK Industrievereinigung Kunststoffverpackungen and EuPC have joined forces to assess the implementation in the Member States and highlight the consequences of a patchwork of packaging laws for consumers and businesses in the EU.
“We are very concerned about the tendency to break harmonized packaging rules in the internal market and create special national rules, often on plastic packaging. It’s about dismantling piece by piece the EU’s greatest achievement, the single market for the exchange of goods – most of which are wrapped in plastic. We call on the Commission to act more firmly as guardian of the treaties and to take more coherent action against these divergent national rules, ”said Martin Engelmann of the German Plastic Packaging Association IK.
EU bans on straws, some EPS take-out packaging and disposable EPS cups, etc. are an example of slow implementation. According to research from the three associations, only 11 Member States have implemented these bans so far. The situation is even worse for the marking rules for single-use cups, which so far only apply in 5 Member States. The associations also criticize attempts by several member states to introduce more extensive bans, for example on fruit and vegetable packaging, as well as country-specific labeling regulations.
“These divergent national measures can, and in some cases already are, undermine the integrity of the single market and therefore the basis for prosperity in the EU and an important precondition for achieving the ambitious goals of the circular economy.” said Alexandre Dangis, CEO of EuPC.
EuPC is committed to implementing SUPD on time and according to guidelines, even if we do not agree with most of the requirements.