Select Committee on European Scrutiny Nineteenth Report





Draft Directive amending Directive 94/62/EC on packaging and packaging waste.

Legal base:Article 95 EC; co-decision; qualified majority voting
Department:Trade and Industry
Basis of consideration:SEM of 11 February 2002
Previous Committee Report:HC 152-xiv (2001-02), paragraph 5 (23 January 2002)
To be discussed in Council:24-25 June 2002
Committee's assessment:Politically important
Committee's decision:For debate in European Standing Committee A


  2.1  In order to reduce the impact of packaging and packaging waste on the environment, and to ensure the functioning of the Internal Market, Council Directive 94/62/EC[4] lays down provisions to prevent such waste, and to regulate both the re-use of packaging, and the recovery and recycling of waste. In particular, Member States were required to achieve by 30 June 2001 the recovery of a minimum 50% and a maximum of 65% by weight of packaging waste. Within this general target, between 25% and 45% by weight of packaging waste would have to be recycled, with a minimum of 15% by weight for each category of packaging material.

  2.2  The Directive also requires the Council, not less than six months before 30 June 2001, to fix targets for the next five years, and, in December 2001, the Commission put forward the current document, which describes the work which has been done to establish the relative costs and benefits of the various approaches, and proposes the levels to be achieved by 30 June 2006. Those levels, and the justification for them, are set out at some length in paragraphs 5.3-5.11 of our Report of 23 January 2002, in which we also summarised the UK's progress in meeting them to date, as follows:

Targets for 2001

Achieved by UK in 2000

Proposed for 2006

Overall recovery




Overall recycling





 - paper

 - glass

 - metal

 - plastic













  2.3  We also noted the Government's reservations over certain aspects of the proposal and its undertaking to provide a Regulatory Impact Assessment as soon as possible. In view of this, and of the somewhat tentative nature of the Commission's own cost estimates, we said that we were inclined to think that it would be appropriate for this proposal to be debated, but that, before making any formal recommendation to that effect, we would await the promised Regulatory Impact Assessment.

Supplementary Explanatory Memorandum of 11 February 2002

  2.4  The Minister of State for Industry and Energy at the Department of Trade and Industry (Mr Brian Wilson) has enclosed with his Supplementary Explanatory Memorandum of 11 February 2002 a Regulatory Impact Assessment. This points out that the UK is proposing for 2002 an overall recovery target of 61%, and either 18% or 20% for material specific recycling. It then seeks to analyse the additional costs and benefits of adopting the changes set out in the proposal, insofar as these would affect the obligations of the 14,000 businesses in the sectors involved (manufacturers of packaging raw materials, those converting such materials into packaging, those using packaging to pack or wrap products, those selling packaging to final consumers, and importers of packaging), the 200 or so businesses carrying out recovery and recycling, and the 2,500 licensed landfills.

  2.5  The Assessment says that, whilst increased recovery and recycling targets for packaging waste should reduce the detrimental effects of such wastes being sent to landfill, they can bring their own costs in terms of resource use, including additional transport costs arising from the need for separate collections, and increased emissions from the recycling process itself. It therefore stresses the need to assess the net benefits of the proposal. On that basis, and making various assumptions about future flows in packaging waste, how the overall recovery rate is achieved, and the effect of the proposal on the market for recycled wastes, the Assessment concludes that the additional cost to the UK of meeting the targets set by the Commission for 2006 would be between £458 million and £656 million. It says that this reflects the relatively low base achieved so far, the need to recycle significant additional material (particularly glass, metals and paper) from the household sector, the need to recycle significantly more glass, and to improve performance on recycling plastics. However, the Assessment also points out that these figures would be reduced by £68 million to £84 million if the deadline were moved to 2008 to reflect the late submission of the Commission proposal, and by £44 million to £56 million if the main increase in targets were to take place towards the end of the period for compliance.


  2.6  We are grateful to the Minister for this Regulatory Impact Assessment, and confirm that this is a potentially significant proposal, on which there should be a debate in European Standing Committee A. This will provide the House with an opportunity to discuss the various assumptions underlying the proposal, including those advanced by the Commission. Also, given the unforeseen practical difficulties which have arisen recently on other environmental measures taken by the Community, notably those governing the disposal of refrigerators, it will enable the Government to indicate whether or not similar difficulties might arise if this proposal were to be adopted.

4   OJ No. L.365, 31.12.94, p.10. Back

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2002
Prepared 22 February 2002