A call to action

Dick Searle2smallThe dislocated and disconnected nature of the Brussels based bureaucracy never ceases to amaze me.

This month, for example, saw the EU announce further proposals to amend its directive on packaging and packaging waste.

These proposals are utterly unrealistic and would result in huge additional costs for the whole of our supply chain if enacted as proposed. At one level this whole situation represents an outcome of a battle behind closed Brussels doors. The contenders are enterprise and ‘environment’ so-called. By this measure ‘environment’ is winning, hands down.

At present the proposals from DG Environment would deliver draconian impacts on the costs for industry and would seem to have little to do with any “re-balancing of the economy”.

Proposed Measures include:

– Split metals targets

– No aggregates for glass

– Industry to cover the ‘entire cost of waste managing, including separate collection & treatment of used packaging’

– Pay as you throw/Green Dot system proliferation

– Confused impact assessments

Furthermore, the very sensible measures of energy recovery, combined heat and power and other kinds of thermal recycling – as practiced in the most developed economies – have been cold shouldered in these proposals.

No energy recovery targets are mentioned here. The reason given is that the combination of recycling targets and landfill restriction means that energy targets are ‘no longer necessary’. Really? Tell that to Scandinavia or Japan or other countries where it plays an integral part in the environmental economy.

In truth, the worst aspect of this whole affair is the poverty of intellect revealed and the disinterest in real-world economics. The proposals show a lack of clear analysis and a lack of research. In addition, the most gaping void – deliberate or otherwise – is a complete exemption of Europe’s consumers for all responsibility in these matters and the lack of accountability in any brave new circular economy.

Given that consumption waste, litter and this whole issue are wholly driven by consumers this is indeed an astonishing omission. But then, what politicians in Europe have the skill and the leadership to truly address this agenda? Consume less? Take more social responsibility? That ticket has never been a vote winner since politics began.

On July 31st, Defra and BIS are hosting an initial workshop to discuss these proposals. The Packaging Federation will attend. It promises to be an interesting meeting.

These new EU proposals are simply laughable. I look to our industry and the support of our allies and members to resist them strongly. It’s a fight we simply have to win. We see the merits of a circular economy and are clearly on the side of a single market but this sort of nonsense has no part in it.

Many thanks

Dick Searle