Renewable Matter # 25 / January-February

Single-use Plastics and the Automotive Industry: Upcoming Commitments for the EU

by Francesco Petrucci

In order to keep the global increase in temperature under 2° C, swift, decisive and wide-ranging actions will have to be taken. This is the conclusion reached by the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). A report presented on October 8th2018, offered a useful contribution to the 24thsession of the Conference of Parties (COP 24) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which was held this year in Katowice, Poland, between December 3rdand 14th.

Following the report from the UN experts, on October 9th the European Council requested decisive action aimed at realising the Paris Accords, and was joined in this by the European Parliament on October 25th, demonstrating the important role of the European Union in motivating legislative and political decisions regarding the fight against climate change.

Furthermore, the European Commission approved an update to the Strategy for Bioeconomy, which stipulates 14 concrete actions to be initiated in 2019 in order to combat climate change and ecosystem degradation. According to the Commission, a sustainable bioeconomy is necessary to bring about a carbon-neutral future.

The directives on renewable energy and energy efficiency, that were definitively approved by the European Parliament on November 13th, will undoubtedly lend a helping hand to the fight against climate change. The next steps in this regard will be the approval of the European Council and publication in the Official Journal of the EU. The texts set out a binding objective of 32% for renewable energies by 2030, and an optional one of 32,5% for energy efficiency by 2030.

In terms of energy, significant progress was achieved with the publication of the new international “Energy Management Systems” norm (ISO 50001:2018), which in 2021 will substitute the previous ISO from 2011, following a three-year transitional period.

Meanwhile, there has been rapid progress in the approval of the directive on the reduction of single-use plastics. After the measure was approved by the EU Parliament on October 24th 2018 and by the EU Council on October 31st, a dialogue began between the various parties with the aim to create a commonly agreed-upon text for a law that is destined to bring profound changes to the production of plastics across the continent.

The automotive world is also heading for a series of changes that will impact the entire production process. On October 3rd, the European Parliament approved a proposal to regulate the reduction of the CO2 emissions of light vehicles such as cars and vans, stipulating strict limits (a 35% emissions reduction for cars). The European Council voted on the same legislative proposal on October 9th, though with less severe limits. Now discussions will begin in the hope of finding common ground.

Subsequently, on November 14th, the European Parliament approved a proposal for regulation concerning CO2 emission limits for heavy vehicles (aiming for 35% by 2030) with an obligation for manufacturers to introduce a percentage of zero-emission vehicles into the market. As in the previous cases, the EU Council and Parliament will begin a dialogue aimed at reaching a commonly agreed-upon legislative text.

In matters of licensing, an important development is the update of the criteria for the EU Ecolabel certificate for lubricants (European Commission Decision no. 2018/1702/Ue, November 8th, 2018). The new standards that must be met for the Ecolabel certificate will be valid until 2024 and will help introduce products that have less impact on water resources and reduced quantities of hazardous substances into the market. Existing Ecolabel criteria for paper, mattresses, hygiene products and cosmetics have been extended.

In conclusion, some news regarding companies that produce and trade in chemical substances. Regulation no. 2018/1513/Ue, which came into effect on November 1st 2018, has limited the use of substances such as cadmium, lead and benzopyrene in clothing, textiles and footwear. Regulation no. 2018/1480/Ue has instead established new harmonised rules for the classification, packaging and labelling of 35 hazardous substances, starting from May 1st 2020. Finally, “decaBDE” (decabromodiphenyl ether) will be banned as a substance from March 2nd 2019, whereas it has been established that its use during production of other substances or products will have to cease by March 2nd, 2027.

Newsletter Subscription