Implementation of eco-modulated fees in France, the Netherlands and Sweden
In several EU member states, modulated fees have been introduced as an incentive for producers to design packaging that is more readily recycled, to encourage the adoption of an ‘eco-design’ approach and to reduce excessive packaging. Christie Fawke's Blog outlines how France, the Netherlands and Sweden have implemented modulated fees.
Following the amendments that were made to the Waste Framework Directive in 2018, the modulation of financial contributions paid by producers or “modulated fees” has been introduced as an incentive for producers to design packaging that is more readily recycled and to encourage producers to adopt an ‘eco-design’ approach and reduce excessive packaging.
The contributions businesses will be obligated to pay will therefore increase or decrease depending on the recyclability of the packaging they place onto the relevant markets. Those using difficult to recycle, or unrecyclable packaging, will likely see higher costs per material.
Modulation will also include any products that are labelled as “bio-based” or “biodegradable”, as there are no specific definitions of these terms. They can be misleading for consumers so will be banned under the Single Use Plastic Directive.
In addition to modulated fees, many countries are looking to increase the granularity of data that will be required. For example, many countries now request plastic declarations to be broken down by polymer type and colour, and to include details of recycled content. New data requirements will ultimately determine fees paid by obligated companies.
As with all EU Directives, each Member State’s interpretation and adoption of the law will differ slightly. To demonstrate how eco-modulated fees have already been implemented in some countries, we take a closer look below at France, the Netherlands and Sweden.
Companies placing more than 500,000 units onto the French market per year, are obligated to complete a detailed declaration. The detailed declaration should include all packaging associated with each product line placed onto the market. Plastic packaging must be broken down into bottles (clear and coloured PET, PE, or PP), rigid and flexible packaging, as well as complex packaging, other resins excluding PVC and packaging containing PVC. Fees range from 29 cents per kilogram up to 49 cents per kilogram.
Moreover, France offers a bonus and penalty system. Bonuses are applied for raising consumer awareness, printing detailed on-pack sorting information and if plastic packaging contains a certain percentage of recycled content. Penalties are issued for packaging disruptors which may make recycling more difficult, such as dark coloured materials, specifically PET bottles and rigid plastic packaging containing carbon black, as well as reinforced or heavily inked cardboard or paper.
In the Netherlands, the modulated system is being used to encourage companies to use more rigid plastics which can be readily recycled. Use of these materials is rewarded with a lower compliance fee. To verify that their plastic meets this criterion, companies must apply to use the lower fee providing evidence, such as features and material specifications, to the Dutch compliance scheme.
Similarly, Sweden has also implemented a modulated system, whereby a higher fee is applied to both harder to recycle plastics and paper or cardboard.
To qualify for the lower plastic compliance fee, the materials must meet the below criteria:
- Made of easier to recycle materials such as Polyethylene, Polypropylene, PET (uncoloured bottles and jars)
- All plastics must be free from fillers
- No black plastic
- The printed area cannot exceed 60% of the total outer area of the packaging
For paper and cardboard, the material must consist solely of paper and none of the below:
- Plastic, wax or aluminium barriers
- Attached windows made of plastic
- Wet strength paper
- Multi-layered material consisting of a mixture of paper fibre or plastic
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