As the world begins to return to a “new normal”, the evolution of producer responsibility continues. Abbie Burford, Valpak’s International Account Manager, takes us through some of the headline news within international compliance from the last three months.
Spain’s up-coming Waste Law and Plastic Tax
Spain has revealed plans for their new Waste Law, which will extend current packaging and WEEE producer responsibility as well as bring textiles and toys into scope. The Law also transposes the EU Single-use Plastics Directive and outlines a nationwide ban on microplastics in cosmetic products. The new legislation sets the groundwork for Spain’s own Plastic Tax, which will see a charge imposed on any single-use plastic packaging of €0.45 per kilo. The wording will also include a mandatory requirement for the hospitality industry to offer tap water, as Spain commits to reducing their use of single-use plastic bottles.
The Law and its corresponding measures are expected to be passed in the first quarter of 2021 and should come into force in July of the same year.
Important changes to distance seller packaging obligations in Republic of Ireland
Previously, companies distance selling into Ireland were not obligated for packaging compliance. However, this quarter saw a significant change to the rules, now obligating any distance seller with a turnover of more than €35,000 to register for Irish VAT and comply for any packaging placed on the market.
Aspects of France’s Anti-waste and Circular Economy Law are revealed
France released some of the key points that will be incorporated into their highly anticipated new legislation. The full details and plan for implementation of the law are expected in September 2020; however, we already know some aspects. One of those is that the Triman symbol will continue to be mandatory for packaging producers. The symbol will also need to be accompanied by sorting instructions from 2021.
For EEE producers, as part of the “repair” aspect of the legislation, spare parts will need to be made available to consumers for household appliances, small IT equipment, screens and monitors. In terms of takeback, all distance sellers will need to have implemented a free system by 1 January 2022 and the authorities are considering extending the current 1:0 takeback rules set by the EU to include any retailer selling similar products to the WEEE that the consumer wishes to recycle. There will no longer be the requirement for stores to be at least 400m2 to offer free takeback, regardless of sale of new equipment.
Significant Waste Laws passed and proposed in the Americas
The Dominican Republic passed their Law for the Proper Treatment of Solid Waste on the 23 July. The legislation establishes the country’s push towards a more circular economy by promoting reduction, reuse and recycling. The law is anticipated to set extended producer responsibility to cover all aspects of a products life cycle, including the reuse and recycling stage.
Further north in the USA, the introduction of the Plastic Waste Reduction and Recycling Act aims to create guidance for establishing a plastic waste reduction and recycling program, by improving the US recycling industry and therefore eliminating the need to export materials to be recycled. The Act has been presented to the House of Representatives but has yet to be passed.
Priority products named in New Zealand and timeline set in Australia
The six environmentally harmful priority products to be tackled in New Zealand were revealed by their Associate Environment Minister, Eugenie Sage on 29 July 2020. The Product Stewardship (EPR) principle is expected to be applied to any manufacturer, importer and retailer of the following products: plastic packaging, tyres, e-waste (EEE), chemicals and their containers, refrigerants and farm plastics.
Meanwhile, in neighbouring Australia, the Australian Packaging Covenant (ACPO) unveiled their schedule for implementing aspects of their “Priority Projects”. This entails 21 diverse projects covering priority areas such as re-use, recycling, recycle content uptake and the phasing out of single-use plastics.
After consulting their members, APCO announced this quarter that the original Recycled Content Target (as set out in the National Recycling Targets 2025) has now been increased to 50%. The corresponding project to put together standard requirements and a labelling system for this recycled content requirement is due to kick off in quarter 3. The next quarter will also see APCO launch their reuse roadmap research project, which will facilitate their aim to launch a pilot deposit return scheme (DRS) at the beginning of 2021.
New and up-coming single-use plastic bans in Asia
This quarter, both Japan and Indonesia implemented their single-use plastic carrier bag bans at the beginning of July. China also set out their timeline for introducing their own bans, with all non-degradable plastic mail order bags (including woven bags and tapes) being prohibited across the country by the end of 2025. Certain e-commerce platforms have also begun introducing incentives to encourage consumers to buy from companies offering “greener” packaging through discounts and coupons.
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