There are virtually no laws regulating the use of molded foam in the U.S. In other parts of the world this is not the case. Below you can read about some leading initiatives.
- European Packaging Directive -
To understand the legislative philosophy of European countries toward packaging, one need not look any further than the European Community (EC) Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive, first introduced in late 1994. With a strong emphasis on the producer pays policy, the Directive covers all packaging including household, commercial and industrial waste. The primary thrust of the packaging directive is to reduce the amount of packaging produced. This will be accomplished via manufacturing modifications, reuse programs and a variety of recovery options.
The main objective of the Directive is to harmonize packaging waste management. The Directive in itself, is not a regulation, but an instruction to EU member states to take the necessary action to ensure that its requirements are complied with. Therefore, each state in the EU must draft its own legislation to comply with the Packaging Directive.
Under the Directive, it is required that each national government ensure that systems are established for the return or collection of used packaging. The detailed arrangements vary from country to country. Many have chosen to establish third party, non-profit organizations to take back the packaging waste. Such organizations can choose to impose fees at any point in the distribution chain, or when feasible, internalize collection costs so that manufacturer levies are not required.
Other factors, which vary from state to state, include who in the packaging supply chain is responsible for compliance, what waste disposal options fall under the definition for recovery and how the waste disposal fees are set up.
All companies operating in the European Union which are engaged in the supply of raw materials for packaging, the conversion of these materials into finished packaging, the production of packaged goods, the distribution of packaged goods and the collection, sorting, recovery or disposal of packaging waste.
Waste Management Definitions
Under the Packaging Directive, the definitions for recovery include a number of options including recycling, waste-to-energy incineration and composting. In many cases, recycling may include composting, WTE and chemical recycling for plastics. The recovery rate can be met by any one material or combination of materials as long as the minimum 15% recycling rate for individual materials is achieved.
EU states may differ in their methodology to calculate recovery rates and like in the U.S., the criteria to measure waste diversion from one material to the next (i.e. paper, plastics, aluminum), may vary as well.
Each country has its own formula. In the U.K., for example, the packaging chain is broken down into four categories, each with an assigned portion of the expense. Raw material suppliers 6%; converters 11%; packing and filling businesses 36% and retailers or end users 47%. Fee schedules are then calculated by multiplying the company's annual packaging weight by its responsibility factor and the recovery rate in effect. Under this system, importers of packaging materials must meet the additional obligations associated with the packaging activities performed prior to importation, or in the case of a retailer, 100% of the costs.
Germany's packaging ordinance, managed by an independent recycling organization, Duales System Deutschland GmbH (DSD), has a fee schedule which is determined by weight and volume according to material type. A licensing fee for use of the green dot symbol, in addition to annual membership fees, is also incurred. Similar cost programs are in effect in France, Belgium and Austria.
Determining cost factors for doing business in any given country is often a complex exercise based on a myriad of details which can vary significantly from one country to the next. Work sheets to provide formulas for determining approximate costs exist in many EU states. Also, many countries have drafted legislation to allow for the purchase of certificates from recycling businesses showing that the appropriate materials have been recovered and recycled.
Those countries which have already drafted packaging waste legislation do not always have specific provisions for transport packaging. In Italy, the current scope of packaging legislation is limited to food and non-food liquid containers and plastic bags. In Germany, transport packaging is subject to the take back obligation passed in December 1991, however, there is no recycling target for transport packaging in the Ordinance. According to Archim Gibson of Duales System Deutschland GmbH, "It is DSD 's responsibility only to collect so-called sales packaging, i.e. packaging purchased for end users. Packaging removed before the point-of-purchase, such as transport packaging, are usually not regarded as sales packaging. These are, therefore, not subject to our collection system. This means that the majority of transport packaging is collected in take back programs or through independent recyclers contracted by the packaging suppliers which manufacturer each material.
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Europian Bulletin: www.europen.be
European Union: www.eurunion.org/index.htm
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