Issue 27

Late September 2013

Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik, will receive the coveted United Nations Champions of the Earth prize for his policy leadership and work to promote resource efficiency and combat food waste. The prize - the UN's highest environmental accolade - is awarded to leaders from government, civil society and the private sector whose actions have had a significant and positive impact on the environment.

The ACR+ EPR club hosted a high level conference to debate the future European Commission approach the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) in the field of waste management. The Commission is due to begin work next year on deciding whether EU-wide guidance or binding rules would be beneficial to EPR. The conference heard from study consultants who are currently looking at best practices around Europe, which could be used to improve EPR’s effectiveness.  Comparing best practices is though being hampered, as reliable data on EPR schemes is not always available.

Member state diplomats meeting in Brussels have failed to reach the qualified majority needed to approve end-of-waste criteria for recovered paper. It will now be up to EU ministers to resolve the issue. If the ministers still cannot strike a deal, and assuming that the European Parliament does not raise any objections, the EU executive might then decide to adopt the proposal it put forward at the beginning of July.
The recent European Commission on the review of European waste management targets has received a range of different views. The EU private waste management sector has given cautious support to higher recycling targets for packaging waste, if it can be shown these are achievable without disproportionately high costs. Industry representatives believe that the existing 2006 targets in the packaging waste directive should not be changed unless the European Commission has evidence that they are no longer at the right level from an environmental or economic point of view.
Stakeholders meeting on 20th September discussed revised EU guidance (a BREF) on best available techniques (BATs) to reduce pollution from refineries under the Industrial Emission Directive (IED). The controversial ‘bubble approach’ is likely to be used under an integrated emission management system. The inclusion of a BAT conclusion on this approach is supported by a number of member states including Spain, Poland and the Czech Republic but others including Germany, Austria and the UK are opposed.

Whilst there is general agreement between the Member States on the need for an EU wide CO2 emissions target for 2030, there is disagreement on renewable energy and energy efficiency targets. That was the message from EU Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger following the Informal Energy Council that met in Vilnius.  But a recent unofficial Commission briefing sent to the Members States shows that consensus on everything except the 40% CO2 reduction goal is a way off.

The European Commission has launched a consultation with Small and Medium sized enterprises (SMEs) on the role played that environmental labels play in promoting access for green products to the single market.  The consultation is part of series of measures under the ‘Green Action Plan’ which aims to promote resource efficiency amongst SMEs.

A long-awaited EU forest strategy that addresses increasing demand for wood whilst making sure that EU forests are sustainably managed has been published by the European Commission this week.  The EU currently contains 5 % of the world's forests. Its forests have continuously expanded for over 60 years, although recently at a slower rate.