Finland and Italy Challenge EU Reuse and Waste Targets

Finland and Italy stir controversy in EU, opposing reuse and waste targets. Tensions rise ahead of ministerial meeting in Brussels.

Finland and Italy Challenge EU Reuse and Waste Targets

Finland and Italy are poised to dilute reuse and waste targets in advance of the upcoming EU ministerial gathering in Brussels next week.

In a joint statement obtained by Euronews and shared among diplomats this week, Finland and Italy are urging governments to resist stringent measures on single-use packaging and proposed reuse targets outlined in the Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR).

Their stance, articulated in the document, calls for the elimination of reuse targets and the scrapping of all restrictions on single-use packaging. This position contrasts with the compromise "general approach" agreed upon by the European Parliament, the European Commission, and the Council, as circulated among EU diplomats on December 12.

Specifically, Finland and Italy aim for the Environment Council meeting on December 18 in Brussels to steer clear of constraints on single-use packaging, particularly for food and beverages. This mirrors the European Parliament's decision to weaken the single-use restriction provision during the plenary session in Strasbourg on November 22.

The joint document circulated by the two nations also advocates for exemptions for single-use formats proving the best environmental outcome or showcasing a high separate collection rate of their packaging waste.

In instances where reuse of packaging is technically unfeasible or lacks the necessary infrastructure, the paper suggests considering exemptions. Finland and Italy additionally oppose market restrictions tied to specific packaging formats, arguing for the flexibility to choose alternatives based on the best overall environmental outcome.

The countries assert that reuse and refill targets should only apply to products where these practices are technically and practically feasible. They express concerns about mandatory reuse targets, especially for food and beverages, citing potential inadequately assessed impacts on food safety.

Finland and Italy request exemptions to reuse targets when evidence supports alternative environmentally favorable outcomes. They urge the Council to allow EU countries with high rates of separate collection of packaging waste to bypass reuse practices, a provision also applicable to states with high recycling rates.

Jean-Pierre Schweitzer, Policy Manager for Circular Economy at the European Environmental Bureau (EBB), emphasizes the environmental significance of reuse and restriction measures in the PPWR. He warns that undermining these measures could lead to an additional 7.3 million tonnes of packaging waste by 2030.

The Spanish Presidency affirms that reuse targets are the primary unresolved issue for policymakers, according to a recent press briefing.

Finland and Italy justify their position by referencing the Waste Framework Directive (WFD), asserting that it follows a scientific life-cycle approach beyond waste prevention.

As of the time of publication, the Finnish and Italian permanent representations to the EU have not responded to requests for comment.

The Spanish Presidency of the EU Council aims to address concerns related to reuse and refill by multiple member states in a manner that upholds ambition without significant dilution, as conveyed in a recent press conference.


Keywords

Finland , Italy , EU Ministerial Meeting , Packaging Waste Regulation , Single-use Packaging , Environmental Impact , Reuse Targets , European Parliament , Council Compromise

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