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Specific Waste Streams

Packaging and packaging waste

Directive 94/62/EC on packaging and packaging waste aims to harmonise national measures concerning the management of packaging and packaging waste in

  • 54 Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive
  • 1999/31/EC on the landfill of waste (2 December 2015) COM(2015) 594 final, 11. Some Member States may get five additional years to reach the target.

order, on the one hand, to prevent its impact on the environment or to reduce such impact, and on the other hand, to ensure the functioning of the internal market55 (Art 1). The legal basis used is one corresponding to the current Article 114 TFEU, that is, the internal market. 5fi The Directive covers all packaging placed on the market in the EU and all packaging waste. The term ‘packaging’ refers to all products made of any materials of any nature to be used for the containment, protection, handling, delivery, and presentation of goods from the producer to the user or the consumer. (Arts 2 and 3.)

Packaging may be placed on the market only if it complies with a number of essential requirements on the composition and the reusable and recoverable nature of packaging (Art 9 and Annex II). Other preventive measures must also be implemented, such as national programmes to introduce producer responsibility to minimise the environmental impact of packaging (Arts 4 and 6).

Member States must have systems set up to provide for the return and/or collection of used packaging and/or packaging waste from the consumer, other final user, or from the waste stream and reuse or recovery, including recycling of the packaging and/or packaging waste collected. Users of packaging must be informed about the return, collection, and recovery systems available to them and their role in contributing to reuse, recovery, and recycling of packaging and packaging waste. The Directive also lays down specific minimum recycling and recovery targets.57 In 2014 the Commission reported that these targets have generally been met, but that some uncertainty exists as to the accuracy of the reported data.58 (Arts 6, 7, and 13.)

An amendment in 2015 introduced requirements on sustained reduction in the consumption of lightweight plastic carrier bags79 Member States may choose between (or opt for both) the adoption of measures which ensure that the annual consumption level does not exceed ninety lightweight plastic carrier bags per person by 31 December 2019 and forty lightweight plastic carrier bags per person by 31 December 2025, or equivalent targets set in weight; or the adoption of instruments ensuring that, by 31 December 2018, lightweight plastic carrier bags are not provided free of charge at the point of sale of goods or products, unless equally effective instruments are implemented. Very lightweight plastic carrier bags may be excluded from those measures. (Art 4.) [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]

The Court of Justice has pointed out that Directive 94/62 must be considered to be special legislation (lex specialis) vis-a-vis the FDW, so that the provisions of the former prevail over those of the latter in situations which the former specifically seeks to regulate.[6] [7] [8]

  • [1] [1994] OJ L 365/10.
  • [2] 56 However, the Directive does not bring about an exhaustive harmonisation of return, collection, andrecovery systems for packaging and packaging waste. Case C-198/14 Visnapuu ECLI:EU:C:2015:751,paras 44—46.
  • [3] As part of the Circular Economy Package the Commission has proposed new targets. See Proposalfor a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 94/62/EC on packaging and packaging waste (2 December 2015) COM(2015) 596 final, 11.
  • [4] Ex-post evaluation of certain waste stream Directives, Final report, European Commission—DGEnvironment (18 April 2014) 7.
  • [5] 59 Directive (EU) 2015/720 of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive94/62/EC as regards reducing the consumption of lightweight plastic carrier bags [2015] OJ L 115/11.
  • [6] Case C-444/00 Mayer Parry Recycling ECLI:EU:C:2003:356, para 57.
  • [7] [2000] OJ L 269/34.
  • [8] Ex-post evaluation of certain waste stream Directives (n 58), 9.
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