Plastic Strategy (EU)

The EU has adopted today (16th January 2018) its first plastic strategy. The press release is here. The Q&A is here.

Next Steps

The new Directive on port reception facilities proposed today will now go to the European Parliament and Council for adoption.

Subject to Better Regulation requirements, the Commission will present the proposal on single-use plastics later in 2018.

Stakeholders have until 12 February 2018 to contribute to the ongoing public consultation.

The Commission will launch the work on the revision of the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive and prepare guidelines on separate collection and sorting of waste to be issued in 2019.

For the full list of measures and their timeline, see the Annex to the Plastics Strategy here.

A few remarks (in the UK Brexit context)

(1) I posted a few days ago about imminent changes to 6 EU Waste Directives (the EU Circular Economy Package). The new rules will fix a new target of 55% recycling of plastic packaging waste by 2030, set a ban on landfilling separately collected waste and fix stronger arrangements for extended producer responsibility (EPR) schemes. It is not announced if the UK will follow this.

(2) The EU Plastic Strategy identifies that by 2030 all plastic packaging should be designed to be recyclable or reusable. To achieve this, the European Commission will work on a revision of the legislative requirements for placing packaging on the market. The revision process will focus on defining the concept of design for recyclability. The goal is to decrease the quantity of waste generated and to avoid that these materials end up as litter, are incinerated or are landfilled where can be recycled. This also includes the issue of over-packaging. It is not announced if the UK will follow this (the commitment in the UK 25-yr environmental plan is to eliminate plastic waste where practicable by 2042).

(3) Microplastics are plastic particles smaller than 5 mm. They end up in the surface waters and the marine environment, either because they are used intentionally in products in order to accomplish a certain function (e.g. microbeads in cosmetics as exfoliating agents) or because they are generated through the breakdown of larger plastic pieces and through the wear and tear of products (e.g. through abrasion of tyres or washing of textiles).

The European Commission has started work to restrict the use of microplastics that are intentionally added in products through the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals regulation (REACH).

Regarding unintentional release of microplastics, the European Commission is examining options such as labelling, minimum requirements for product design and durability, methods to assess quantities and pathways of microplastics in the environment, funding for targeted research and innovation.

The UK Government has brought in Microbeads Regulations applicable in England. I posted earlier about this, and Email Alerts have been sent (if you did not receive an Email Alert, and need the legislation adding to your EHS Legislation and Law Checklists, please let me know).

(4) The EU Plastic Strategy proposes to look into actions to specifically tackle single-use plastic items and other marine litter, including lost or abandoned fishing gear. Preparatory work has started on a legislative initiative on single-use plastics to be tabled by the European Commission, following the approach already used to tackle light-weight plastic bags.

The results of an ongoing public consultation will help determine the measures to be taken. The UK 25-yr environment plan contains proposals on single-use plastics, but not specifically on fishing gear.

(5) A 2015 amendment of the European Packaging and Packaging Directive mandated Member States to address plastic bag use – see article 4(1a) in the Directive itself here. The UK brought in Legislation in all UK jurisdictions (prior to the 2015 Directive amendment being agreed) and recently signalled it would remove the exemptions that were applied in England.

Note : the provisions of article 8a in the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive which relate to the labelling and identification of biodegradable and compostable plastic carrier bags, the implementation period (for Member States) is 18 months from the date of that separate 2017 European instrument.

25-yr Environment Plan (UK)

The UK issued a few moments ago, its long awaited 25-yr Environment Plan. The Plan is here.

I will update this post on the Blog here with the Plan key commitments, targets and schedules. Please note, the updates will not be sent as emails to your inbox (the original post is emailed). So make a note, to check back on the Blog post itself.

UPDATE

Pledges :

(1) eliminate avoidable plastic waste by 2042,

(2) remove exceptions in England plastic bag regulations [the latest amendment to the EU Packaging and Packing Waste Directive stipulates measures on plastic bags by end 2018, plus the European Commission’s Plastics Strategy is announced next week – I will write a separate Blog post about it],

(2)(a) consultation in a charge for single-use plastic containers,

(3) protect ancient woodland and plant more trees, a new Tree Champion to be appointed after the National Planning Policy Framework is updated,

(4) retain strong targets for wildlife, water and air,

(5) “polluter pays” and “public money for public goods” as guiding principles for future farming policy (plus subsidy reform from 2024 (2022-2024 consultation) – this may be set out in the forthcoming Brexit Agriculture Bill),

(6) sustainable drainage to make cities safer from floods – new planning guidelines,

(7) healthcare that takes advantage of green prescriptions – preventative care that can make the most of “natural health service”,

(8) nature integrated in urban communities – net nature gain in new developments (possibly via the revamp of the National Planning Policy Framework,

(9) a new Watchdog to hold government to account – a new environment body to replace the activities of the EU’s Commission and Courts (this was an earlier DEFRA announcement – see recent Blog posts – the next step is consultation),

(10) nature targets (little detail),

(11) “leave the environment in a better state than they found it”, “the goals of our 25 year environment plan are simple: clean air, clean and plentiful water, plants and animals which are thriving, and a cleaner, greener country for us all. A better world for each of us to live in and a better future for the next generation.”,

(12) a miscellany of other pledges with little attached detail.

Note : the objectives in the plan itself add relatively little to the European and international commitments the UK is already signed up to.

But : the UK is meant to achieve good ecological status for all water bodies by the mid 2020s under the EU Water Framework Directive. The commitment in this 25-yr plan to achieve good water quality “as soon as practicable” is a lesser target.

Also : there is no mention of implementation of the forthcoming EU Circular Economy amendments to six existing Waste Directives.

Plus : there is no mention of the EU “precautionary principle’, particularly relevant to chemicals.

UK exits the EU (more Brexit Notices)

Over the past six months or so, the European Commission (sometimes in conjunction with other European bodies) has issued Brexit Notices to Operators. I have posted in this Blog about them, as they have been issued.

In November and December 2017, separate parts of the European Commission issued Brexit Notices at the same time, and there were more of these Brexit Notices.

(1) Notices issued in relation to Transport (I posted recently about the Road Haulage Notice) – this link covers Aviation, Road Haulage and Seafarers – here.

(2) Notices issued in relation to Data Protection, Justice and Company Law – here.

(3) Notices issued in relation to Food and Biotechnology (I already posted about Plant Protection Products, Pesticides, and Biocides) – GMOs, and mineral water.

(4) Notice issued on the European Trade Mark – here.

(5) Notice issued on Medicines – here.

I will update this post, as more Notices are drawn to my attention. Please note to check this post on the Blog itself. Post updates do not result in new emails to your inbox.

Waste (EU)

In 2015 the European Commission proposed revisions to existing EU waste law. Four new revising EU Directives were proposed (known as the Circular Economy Package) :

(1) revision to the EU Waste Directive

(2) revision to the EU Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive

(3) revision of the EU Landfill Directive

(4) revision of the EU End-of-life Vehicles Directive, the Batteries and Waste Batteries Directive, and The WEEE Directive.

Key elements of the 2015 waste proposal are:

  • A common EU target for recycling 65% of municipal waste by 2030;
  • A common EU target for recycling 75% of packaging waste by 2030;
  • A binding landfill target to reduce landfill to maximum of 10%of municipal waste by 2030;
  • A ban on landfilling of separately collected waste;
  • Promotion of economic instruments to discourage landfilling;
  • Simplified and improved definitions and harmonised calculation methods for recycling rates throughout the EU;
  • Concrete measures to promote re-use and stimulate industrial symbiosis –turning one industry’s by-product into another industry’s raw material;
  • Economic incentives for producers to put greener products on the market and support recovery and recycling schemes (eg for packaging, batteries, electric and electronic equipment, vehicles).

Provisional agreement was reached in December 2017 in the final stage of the EU law making process :

* Revised common EU targets for municipal waste recycling – at least 55% by 2025, 60% by 2030, 65% by 2035,

* 10% cap on landfill by 2035,

* provisions for countries to restrict the use of single-use plastics,

* improvements in the traceability of hazardous substances in products and waste,

* decontamination of hazardous waste,

* restrictions on oxo-degradable plastics and planned obsolescence.

The final analysis of the agreed text will take place under the new Bulgarian presidency (that has commenced in January 2018) with a view to confirm the agreement.

After formal approval, the new legislation will be submitted to the European Parliament for a vote at first reading and to the Council for final adoption.

The new laws will come into force in 2018 and will then need to be transposed to into national legislation.

THIS POST WILL BE UPDATED WHEN THE AGREED LAW TEXT IS PUBLISHED – the revised EU laws will be loaded into EHS Legislation Registers at that point.

Waste (UK)

On 1st January 2018 China imposed a ban on the import of certain types of waste including mixed paper and post-consumer plastics (plastics thrown away by consumers). In addition, some other types of waste, including all other paper and plastics exports, will have to meet a reduced acceptable contamination level of 0.5% from March 2018.

China’s decision has a global impact, including in the UK. 3.7 million tonnes of plastic waste are created in the UK in a single year. Of that total, the UK exports 0.8 million tonnes to countries around the world, of which 0.4 million tonnes is sent to China (incl. Hong Kong). In comparison, other countries including Germany (0.6 million tonnes), Japan and the US (both 1.5 million tonnes) export more plastic to China for reprocessing than the UK. The UK also exports 3.7 million tonnes of paper waste to China (incl. Hong Kong), out of 9.1 million tonnes of paper waste in total. In comparison, the US exports 12.8 million tonnes of paper waste to China.

Today, the DEFRA Secretary outlined in a Written Statement here, the progress made on this matter.

The statement identifies that the Environment Agency has issued fresh guidance to exporters, stating that any waste which does not meet China’s new criteria will be stopped, in the same way as banned waste going to any other country. If you are exporting waste, please check the guidance you are using. If you wish this guidance to be loaded onto the EHS Legislation Registers, please let me know (it currently is not loaded).

The statement confirms Operators must continue to manage waste on their sites in accordance with the permit conditions issued by the Environment Agency (England), (presumably ditto in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland). Where export markets or domestic reprocessing are not available, the process chosen to manage waste must be the one that minimises the environmental impact of treatment as fully as possible and follows the waste hierarchy. This requires operators to ensure that where waste cannot be prevented or reused it is recycled where practicable, before considering energy recovery through incineration or the last resort of disposal to landfill.

In July 2017, the DEFRA Secretary announced at the World Wildlife Fund its intention to publish a new Resources and Waste Strategy later in 2018. The Clean Growth Strategy, published on 12 October 2017, set out the ambition for zero avoidable waste by 2050 and announced that changes are being explored to the producer responsibility scheme. An earlier Blog post details the Clean Growth Strategy key elements.

In December 2017, the DEFRA Secretary chaired an industry roundtable on plastics and outlined his four point plan for tackling plastic waste: cutting the total amount of plastic in circulation; reducing the number of different plastics in use; improving the rate of recycling; supporting comprehensive and frequent rubbish and recycling collections, and making it easier for individuals to know what goes into the recycling bin and what goes into general rubbish.

Other measures (mentioned in this Statement) are :

  1. the existing 5p charge on plastic bags that has taken 9 billion bags out of circulation, reducing usage by 83%,
  2. the ban on the manufacture of personal care products containing plastic microbeads in force tomorrow 9th January 2018 (an earlier Blog post identifies this, and Email Alerts have been sent to subscribers likely to need this legislation – if you have not received this Email Alert and need the legislation, please let me know),
  3. a call for evidence (October 2017) on managing single use drinks containers – DEFRA working group will report to Ministers early in 2018,
  4. work with HMT (Treasury) on a call for evidence in 2018 to seek views on how the tax system or charges could reduce the amount of single use plastics waste, and
  5. £3bn committed by 2042 under the Waste Infrastructure Delivery Programme to support a range of facilities to keep waste out of landfill and increase recycling levels.

The Statement confirms China’s decision underlines the need for progress in all these areas, specifically waste reduction, and minimising waste export.

The Statement identifies DEFRA will set out further steps in the coming weeks and months to achieve these goals, including in the forthcoming 25 Year Environment Plan.

ESOS II (UK)

ESOS is a UK law that gives effect to EU Law concerning the energy audits of large companies (an article of the Energy Efficiency Directive). An equivalent of ESOS is in place in each of the other EU-27 member state countries.

Under ESOS, large UK organisations were required to carry out ESOS energy assessments before the deadline of 5 December 2015, using one of four compliance routes:

• ESOS Energy Audit

• ISO 50001 Certification

• Display Energy Certificates

• Green Deal Assessments.

By the deadline, qualifying organisations should have carried out their energy assessment(s) and notified the Environment Agency (EA). The assessments should then be repeated at least once every 4 years.

If an organisation has a UKAS-accredited ISO 50001 certificate that covers the full scope of ESOS, then this will suffice as ESOS compliance. All organisations need to do then, is notify the EA and provide proof of compliance via that route.

However, if ISO 50001 is not used as a route to compliance, then an ESOS energy audit will be needed as the next best and most common available route to compliance.

ESOS II or ESOS 2 ?

Every four years, a new compliance period starts. The qualification date for compliance Period 2 is 31 December 2018, with proof of compliance covering the period (from 6 December 2015 to 5 December 2019) being required by 5 December 2019. This is known as ESOS II or ESOS 2. It is not a change in the law, it is a new compliance period starting.

If your organisation has chosen an ESOS energy audit as the compliance route for Period 1 then you will now have an ESOS evidence pack that will include:

• the calculation for your total energy consumption

• a list of your identified areas of significant energy consumption

• details of the energy saving opportunities identified.

However, you won’t be able to use this information to demonstrate Period 2 compliance, so this exercise will need to be repeated – see earlier for the ESOS 2 deadlines.

Alternatively, information from your first ESOS energy audit can be used as the basis for implementing an energy management system (EnMS) to allow realisation of the energy saving opportunities.

If your system is then certified to ISO 50001 during the first four years, your organisation will automatically demonstrate Period 2 ESOS compliance.

UK exits the EU (road transport haulage)

I posted earlier about various European Commission (and others) Notices to Operators in particular fields.

On 11th December 2017, the European Commission issued a Notice to Operators that subject to European Union legislation in the field of road transport. This Notice is here.

The Notice reminds that from the Withdrawal date (subject to any transitional arrangements that may be contained in a possible Withdrawal Agreement), the EU rules in the field of road transport will no longer apply to the UK. This has a number particular consequences : set out below is the first set of these – please read the Notice itself for the other elements –

(1) CERTIFICATES, LICENCES AND ATTESTATIONS

Certificate of professional competence for road transport operators/transport managers: According to Articles 3(1)(d), 4(1) and 8 of European Regulation (EC) No 1071/2009, persons engaged in the occupation of road transport operator in the EU and transport managers employed by an undertaking engaged in the occupation of road transport operator must hold a certificate of professional competence issued by authorities of a EU Member State or by bodies duly authorised by a EU Member State for that purpose. As of the withdrawal date, certificates of professional competence issued by an authority of the United Kingdom or a body authorised by the United Kingdom will no longer be valid in the EU-27.

Driver attestation for third-country drivers: According to Article 3 of European Regulation (EC) No 1072/2009, international carriage shall be subject to a European Community licence and, when the driver is a national of a third country, in conjunction with a driver attestation.

Thus, as of the withdrawal date, drivers who are United Kingdom nationals and do not constitute long-term residents in the Union, within the meaning of European Directive 2003/109/EC, and who work for a Union haulier holding a Community licence require a driver attestation. In accordance with Article 5(2) of Regulation (EC) No 1072/20096, this driver attestation shall be issued by the competent authorities of the Member State of establishment of the haulier holding a Community licence for each driver who is neither a national nor a long-term resident within the meaning of Council Directive 2003/109/EC7 whom that haulier lawfully employs or who is put at his disposal.

Certificate of professional competence for drivers: In accordance with Directive 2003/59/EC8, drivers in the Union of a vehicle intended for the carriage of goods or for the carriage of passengers need to hold a certificate of professional competence certifying the initial qualification or periodic training and issued by competent authorities of an EU Member State or by an approved training centre in an EU Member State. Drivers who are nationals of an EU Member State obtain their initial qualification in the EU Member State of their normal residence while drivers who are nationals of third countries do this in the EU Member State which issued a work permit to them. As of the withdrawal date, certificates of professional competence issued by the United Kingdom or by an approved training centre in the United Kingdom will no longer be valid in the EU27.

As of the withdrawal date, drivers who are nationals of the United Kingdom but employed by an undertaking established in the Union or Union nationals resident in the United Kingdom but employed by an undertaking established in the Union will have to follow the professional drivers training in the EU Member State where the undertaking employing them is established.

Driving licence: According to Article 2 of European Directive 2006/126/EC9 driving licences issued by Member States of the Union are mutually recognised. As of the withdrawal date, a driving licence issued by the United Kingdom is no longer recognised by the Member States on the basis of this legislation.

The recognition of driving licences issued by third countries is not addressed in Union law but regulated at Member States level. In Member States which are Contracting Parties to the 1949 Geneva Convention on Road Traffic, this Convention applies.

Please read the other elements of this Notice.