'2014: A year for change' - Overseas Environmental Legislation Developments
Winston Churchill once said, “There is nothing wrong with change, if it is in the right direction.”
It would appear that 2014 is a year for change, particularly for environmental legislation. With the environment now at the top of most government agendas, the need to introduce new regulations and update existing ones is increasing. Therefore, is it too early to tell if changes are heading in the right direction? It is worth considering that environmental regulations are often implemented differently from one country to the next, which means that the introduction of new legislation could have a varied impact.
The WEEE Recast
The Recast of the EU Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive is perhaps the most prominent of the impending changes.
In July 2012, the European Union released the final draft of the WEEE Recast, with Member States having until February of this year to implement the changes into legislation.
What does the Recast involve? A selection of the Recast provisions includes:
- The rise of collection targets over the next 6 years to 85%
- The reduction of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) categories from 10 to 6 by 2018
- Retailers with a shop floor area of 400m2 must offer free take back on small items
- Member states will allow producers established in another state to appoint an authorised representative to fulfil their obligations under the Directive
The February deadline has now passed and a number of countries are yet to implement revised regulations. The majority of governments are currently still drafting regulations or have released consultation documents and are now awaiting responses.
A large number of the provisions of the Recast are gradual changes, set to take affect over the next few years. However, the introduction of authorised representatives appears to be imminent and means that more companies will need to comply under the revised regulations. Companies selling via distance means, such as the internet, will be required to establish representatives in the countries they are selling products to. This person / people will take charge of the company’s compliance under the regulations.
The transposition of new provisions of the Recast has been a disjointed process and the criteria, particularly for the authorised representatives, is still quite vague. A multitude of questions still remain unanswered and may not be resolved until all of the member states have their regulations in place. It may be later on in the year before we see any of these changes starting to take effect.
Triman – French Recycling Symbol
Whilst changes to the WEEE Regulations are in motion, the French Government has recently turned its attention to recycling symbols.
As recycling has become a big part of our everyday lives, informing consumers of their role in the recycling process has become a fundamental part of producer responsibility legislation. The Green Dot, the Mobius Loop, the Crossed out Wheeled Bin and the Tidy Man are just a small number of symbols we see on products and packaging in the UK. In addition, there are an extensive number of recycling symbols across Europe, all with varied meanings.
Towards the end of 2013, the French Government opened up a consultation period on the proposed TRIMAN symbol. Designed to inform consumers that a product is recyclable and already subject to an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) system, part of its aim is to encourage more recycling and reduce the amount of recyclable materials going to landfill.
At present, the TRIMAN symbol will not become a Pan-European recycling symbol, which poses a potential problem for manufacturers when producing their products and printing packaging for sales into multiple markets.
It is still unclear if the symbol will be implemented in France, as the debate has been on-going for the last three years. If you would like more information about the proposed TRIMAN symbol, Valpak has produced a quick guide.
Winston Churchill was right! There is nothing wrong with change. I am certain that environmental regulations will continue to develop and that amendments will become more frequent. However, I believe that reaching a verdict as to whether environmental legislation is heading in the right direction is a few years away; it would seem we are just at the beginning.
Are you affected by legislation overseas? If so, Valpak can help! If you would like more information, give us a call, send us an email or attend one of our free workshops.