The Italian association lambasted planned changes to the European Union's packaging laws

  • 2022-11-14
The Commission's proposal to amend the EU's Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive, which will be presented in the form of a regulation at the end of November (read article), does not meet the demands of the Italian Association for Bioplastics and Compostable materials, Assobiplastiche, which rejects the introduction of "arbitrary and unscientific options that penalise new supply chains and technological and environmental innovations".

According to the association, the draft proposal circulating online violates some basic principles, such as proportionality and technical neutrality. "There are substantive problems, such as the penalisation of some packaging materials compared to others, but there are also methodological problems in the European decision-making process, as regulations affect businesses, economic and social structures and citizens so much in the absence of a solid link of clear and transparent scientific assessment," a note reads.

Assobiplastiche therefore calls for a complete rethink of the text, "which places packaging materials on the same plane without penalising those new supply chains, which also benefit from the EU's own contribution to invest more in the context of technological and environmental innovation".

The Bioplastic Coffee Pod Committee proposal departs an entire article to biodegradable and compostable packaging. Some products, such as tea bags, coffee pods, stickers on fruit and vegetables and ultra-light plastic bags, must be compostable within two years of the Ordinance coming into force. Member states can also authorise the use of lightweight compostable plastic bags if collection plans and organic waste disposal infrastructure are in place.

For all other packaging, however, compostable polymers will no longer be available 24 months after the regulation comes into force. The council may also expand the list of packages that must be compostable in the future.

Below, we publish the text of Article 8 on compostable packaging, as shown in the draft circulating online.

Clause 8 - Compostable packaging

1. In order to be considered compostable packaging, the packaging shall be capable of physical, chemical, thermal or biological decomposition so that, in accordance with article 64 (4), most finished composts will eventually decompose into carbon dioxide, biomass and water and will not impede the separate collection and composting processes or the activities they introduce.

2. Teabags, filtered coffee pods, sticky labels attached to fruits and vegetables and very light plastic bags disposed of with used coffee products should be composted in bio-waste facilities under industrially controlled conditions within 24 months of the entry into force of this Regulation.

3. If appropriate waste collection plans and waste disposal infrastructure are in place to ensure that such packaging enters the organic waste management process, it is only right to request that lightweight plastic bags be made available for the first time in its market if it can be demonstrated that it is made entirely of compostable plastic polymers.

4. For a period of 24 months after the entry into force of this Regulation, packaging other than the packaging listed in paragraphs 2 and 3 shall not be manufactured using compostable plastic polymers.

5. The requirements of paragraphs 1, 2 and 3 shall be shown in the technical information relating to packaging.

6. If technical and regulatory developments affect the disposal of compostable plastics and subject to the conditions set out in Annex III, the Commission has the power to amend the list of items in paragraphs 2 and 3 by means of an enabling Act pursuant to section 74.

7. The European Commission should request the European Organisation for Standardisation to update, not later than 31 May 2026, the harmonised standards for packaging requirements for recycling through compost and biodegradation - the test protocol and evaluation criteria. This standard should take into account composting times, allowable visual pollution levels and other requirements to reflect the actual conditions of biological waste treatment facilities, including anaerobic digestion processes, in line with scientific and technological developments.

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