In the first resolution, the European Parliament demanded all “worrying” chemicals contained in waste – according to Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 (REACH) – be traced and that supply chain actors (those dealing with recycling and the public) be informed about the composition and concentration of chemical substances. The objective, even through legislative proposals, is to prevent dangerous chemicals from entering the cycle of materials. Only though a coherent legislative framework on waste, that deals with these dangerous chemicals, will we be able to increase recycling and “circularity” of products and improve public wellbeing protection.
In the second resolution MEPs, while appreciating the EU Commission’s European Strategy on Plastics launched on 16th January 2018, demanded firmer actions on microplastics, requiring the elimination of those contained in cosmetics and personal care and household cleaning products by 2020. According to the European Parliament, there is also a need for statutory provisions on product design, moving from designing for recycling to designing for circularity. Currently, in the EU only 6% of plastics sold are produced using recycled plastics.
It is worth remembering that the European Parliament is discussing a directive proposal by the EU Commission on single-use plastics that could end up in the plenary session at the end of October 2018.
Meanwhile, the plastics industry’s commitment to the circular economy is growing. On the 10th of September 2018, VinylPlus – European PVC industry’s voluntary sustainable development programme – took on board the European Commission’s invitation to increase plastics recycling by committing to recycling at least 900,000 tonnes of PVC per year in new products by 2025, and then reaching at least 1 million tonnes by 2030.
Going back to chemicals, the data provided by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) at the end of the registration of substances already pre-registered in 2017 was provided according to the REACH Regulation. The process closed on 31st May 2018, and on 3rd September 2018 the ECHA announced it had accepted over 30,000 registration applications. It is worth remembering that if a substance has not been registered with the EU Chemicals Agency, it cannot circulate within the EU market.
At last, BATs (Best Available Techniques) for waste disposal and recovery are here. They were approved by the EU Commission on the 10th of August 2018 with Decision EU 2018/1147 in accordance with Directive EU 2010/75 on big industrial plant emissions. BATs are the best available techniques for control and management of plants that, amongst those technically available and economically sustainable in each specific context, guarantee low levels of emissions, optimisation of raw material, water and energy use as well as adequate accident prevention. Such indications are important because when a company wants to build a plant, in the authorisation granted by the appropriate authority, the obligatory provisions outlined refer to BATs.
ISO-14001 certified companies are asked to restyle their environmental management systems’ certification. The new ISO 14001:2015 will come into force on 15th September 2018 and certification applications according to the rules of the previous ISO of 2004 will no longer be accepted.
On the energy efficiency front, Europeans waved goodbye to low efficiency (Class D) halogen light bulbs. On 1st September 2018, “phase 6” provided for by Regulation EC 244/2009 came into force and these products can no longer circulate in the Union. The elimination from the market of inefficient light bulbs will guarantee a saving of 15.2 tonnes of CO2 by 2025.
Last but not least, the discussion of the proposal of a drinking water directive is moving forward. The provision, launched by the EU Commission on 1st February 2018, was voted by the European Parliament Environment Commission on 10th September 2018 and will soon land in Parliament. Objectives include: improving water quality and encouraging restaurants and canteens to provide free or really cheap tap water to reduce the use of plastic water bottles and plastic waste.