Early last month the EP approved the increase of recycling and recovery rates to be achieved in the packaging sector by 31 December 2008 in each EU Member State. Ireland, Greece and Portugal are being asked to comply with the new targets by 30 June 2010.

The new targets are ambitious [60 % overall recovery and 55 % overall recycling]. In addition, future targets will further harmonise packaging waste recycling in Europe through the introduction of material specific targets [60 % for glass and paper/cardboard, 50 % for metals, 22.5 % for plastics and 15 % for wood].

Consequently, Apeal welcomes the agreement reached on the 2008 deadline since it believes it impossible in practice to achieve those goals at national level by 2006 as previously requested by the EP.

The body also welcomes the report that the Commission shall present (by June 2005) on the implementation of the directive and its impact on the environment and internal market.

Indeed, Apeal sees it as an opportunity to identify efficient ways to prevent national measures restricting imports within the EU and distorting competition.

It makes a point of mentioning those currently injuring the drinks and packaging industry in Belgium where a new packaging tax is planned for January 2004 and Germany where there has been a mandatory deposit on disposable packaging since January 2003.

Apeal hopes that the amendments adopted by the EP on Wednesday will not make the so-called conciliation procedure necessary. The position of the EP still differs from the position of the Council and Commission on certain aspects such as the implementation deadline for Ireland, Greece, Portugal and Acceding Countries.

Another issue will be prevention. Apeal believes that the revision should be limited to recycling and recovery targets. The debate on prevention has only just begun within the framework of the 6th environmental action programme and more specifically under the Communication towards a thematic strategy on recycling and prevention.

However, we support the EP’s encouragement of the development of European standards to reduce the environmental impact of packaging. The Prevention standard EN 13428 is already widely used by the packaging industry and should be further embodied in national laws.

Apeal expects the conciliation procedure to be opened in October 2003. Once opened, the procedure should however quickly lead to a final agreement among the institutions involved