25. January 2021
According to the EU’s Packaging & Packaging Waste Directive, every EU member state has to launch an EPR system for packaging from the private and industrial sectors by the end of 2024.
One year after the adoption of the “Green Deal”, there has been little identifiable progress in the modernisation of closed loop recycling management in the European Union. Many countries are already behind schedule. Despite the coronavirus pandemic, a lot could already be done to get climate and resource-friendly waste management off the ground.
The EU wants to become climate neutral by 2050. An important part of the ecological transition is to consolidate products orientated towards closed loop recycling. The motto is: more recycling, less landfill. The focus here is the principle of “extended producer responsibility” (EPR), which places producers under an obligation to assume all costs for the waste management of their products themselves. According the EU’s Packaging & Packaging Waste Directive, every EU member state has to launch an EPR system for packaging from the private and industrial sectors by the end of 2024. Although many countries have a packaging recovery and recycling obligation for household packaging or PET bottles, the industrial sector still needs to catch up considerably. And the clock is ticking: in just three years, nationwide recovery systems must be implemented in this area as well.
Leading market for EPR systems: Germany
Germany is considered a pioneer in the EU when it comes to nationwide EPR systems (extended producer responsibility recovery services) for private household and industrial packaging. Recovery and recycling became the responsibility of product manufacturers almost 30 years ago, with the implementation of the Packaging Ordnance. RIGK was founded in 1992 – by the industry for industry and commerce. Today, RIGK specialises in developing, implementing and operating nationwide EPR systems. RIGK SYSTEM regulates the recovery of used and empty used packaging containing harmless substances, RIGK-G-SYSTEM specialises in hazardous packaging and the RIGK-PICKUP-SYSTEM arranges the simple and nationwide collection of empty packaging on site from commercial customers. Furthermore, RIGK operates two EPR systems for the agricultural sector that were initiated by the pesticide industry: the PAMIRA SYSTEM ensures the recovery of pesticide and liquid fertiliser packaging, and PAMIRA -BEIZE for the recovery of seed dressing packaging.
Building on experience and saving time
RIGK’s many years of expertise and consulting skills are also becoming more important in neighbouring European countries in the wake of the “Green Deal”. “EPR systems are not inflexible models that can be transferred one-to-one to all markets. They are a concept that has to be adapted to the individual requirements of each country,” stresses Jan Bauer, Managing Director of RIGK. “Therefore, it is about time that we have a cross-border dialogue in the EU to share best practices and harness synergies.” Some EU countries are already using their neighbours’ experiences. For example, RIGK is currently providing advice on the nationwide launch of an industry-financed EPR system in Spain. And more countries are interested. You know: a lot has to change within the next three years. And only those who take the first step now are sure to reach their target by 2024.