The EU reform of ETS (Emission Trading System), approved by the Parliament on February 6, 2018, could help reducing emissions. The formal vote of the European Union Council will give the final green light to this reform. This measure amends Directive 2003/87/EU, and strengthen the ETS system efficiency in order to reach the target of a 40% reduction of greenhouse gases by 2030. 

However, the 2016 Eurostat data on primary energy consumption in the EU published on February 5, 2018 have come as a cold shower. The target of a 20% reduction in energy consumption by 2020 is not going to be met: the EU exceeds it by 4%.

Therefore it’s good news that the work on the package “Clean Energy for All Europeans,” presented by the Commission on November 30, 2016, is progressing. Between December 2017 and January 2018 both the Parliament and the Council stated their positions on the proposals for directives on the energy market, renewable energy and energy efficiency, opening the way to the negotiation of a shared text. An agreement was already reached on January 31, 2018, on the proposal for a directive on energy efficiency in the building industry, and now the only step missing is the formal vote of the Parliament and the EU Council. 

In the meantime there’s good news for companies working in circular economy. In mid December both Commission, Parliament and EU Council have reached an agreement on the “circular economy package” (the proposals for directives on waste, packaging, landfills, electronic waste, batteries, end-of-life vehicles). The proposal, voted by the EU Environmental Committee on February 28, 2018, will be voted in the Plenary by mid April 2018 and in the EU Council probably by June 2018 (we will talk further about it when the new rules will be in place). 

The change of perspective deriving from the new rules is clear: the emphasis is on prevention of waste production, to reduce drastically landfilling or incineration. According to the Eurostat data referring to 2016 published on January 22, 2018, the EU rate of landfilling is of 24% (in 1995 it was 64%), whilst in the same period of time there was a 105% increase in incineration.

After reaching the “circular economy package” goal, on January 16, 2018 the EU Commission introduced the European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy, whose aim is encouraging innovation, impacting the way products are designed, constructed, used and recycled in the EU. The goal to be reached before 2013 is the recyclability of any packaging on the market. In the meantime the Commission will introduce a directive on single use plastic, and a proposal to amend the packaging directive.

On the same day the Commission presented its Report on oxo-degradable plastic. The conclusions of the report are quite clear: since there’s no evidence that this kind of plastic is not harmful for the environment, the Commission will ensure legislative proposals to restrict its use.

On the matter of plastic, with Regulation (EU) No 2018/79 the Commission has increased the number of chemical substances that can be part of the plastic materials coming into direct contact with food.

The EU Regulation 2018/2103, that will apply from September 6, 2018, places further restrictions on the use of “bisphenol A,” as a substance contained in plastic materials coming into contact with food. 

From January 31, 2010, octamethylcyclo-tetrasiloxane (D4) and decamethylcyclo-pentasiloxane (D5) will be forbidden in cosmetics products due to the REACH regulation 1907/2006 on the registration and authorisation of chemicals. We remind that May 31, 2018 is the deadline for the registration of all companies that produce or import one or more substances subject to the so-called transitional period in quantities between 1 and 100 tonnes per year, and have pre-registered these substances before December 2008. 

Lastly, two information concerning certifications. With Regulation (EU) no. 2018/59 the criteria in force to obtain the EU Ecolabel for televisions have been extended to December 2019, whilst with decision 2017/2286/EU the Commission has acknowledged the Norwegian System Eco-Lighthouse to be “equivalent” to the Eco-Management and Audit scheme EMAS. 


In cooperation with the Magazine Rifiuti – Bollettino di informazione normativa (“Waste – Bulletin of regulatory information”) and Osservatorio di normativa ambientale (“Environmental law observatory”) on

“Final Report by the High-Level Expert Group on Sustainable Finance”,

“Report on the impact of the use of oxo-degradable plastic including oxo-degradable plastic carrier bags, on the environment”,