- Minimum requirements for Extended Producer Responsibility
FEAD supports having minimum requirements at EU level and believes it is important to ensure that Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) schemes operate on the transparency and polluterpays principles. FEAD is of the opinion that the definition, scope and objectives of EPR should be market-oriented so as to fully exploit its potential to achieve a circular economy at best cost. EPR schemes should encourage manufacturers to use recycled materials; provide sufficient contract durations taking into consideration investments pay-back time; improve the governance of the systems between the different actors; and ensure fair and equal access to materials.
However, when it comes to financial contributions, these criteria should not be so prescriptive as to inhibit innovation and the operation of schemes which reflect differences between the Member States. The desired results will be delivered only if local conditions in the Member States are taken into account. In particular, Article 14 of the WFD states that Member States may decide that the “costs of waste management are to be borne partly or wholly by the producer of the product from which the waste came and that the distributors of such product may share these costs”.
The discretion of the Member States in choosing the most appropriate national/local financial mechanism to achieve EU recycling targets ensures that Member States are free to look for the most efficient approach fit for their own market conditions. At the same time, Member States, when determining the best national/local financial mechanism, should take into account good practices, for example, a bonus/malus system, which incentivises producers to invest in “Design for the Environment”. Therefore, fees paid by waste producers to EPR systems could be modulated by taking into account products re-usability and recyclability. In the end, it is of key importance that Member States take the necessary measures to ensure that the financial contributions paid by the producer are sufficient to comply with its extended producer responsibility obligations. It will be important that any new requirements applied to EPR schemes at EU level do not disrupt existing well-functioning B2B markets for commercial and industrial waste.