The Council of State approved the long-delayed decree on packaging and packaging waste at the beginning of July. It is good that the decree is finally in place. There are only 16 months at our disposal to plan, put out tenders for and implement the take-back scheme for consumer packaging that is under the remit of producers.
The decree stipulates that producers are required to provide at least 1,850 take-back points for the take-back of fibre, metal and glass packaging and 500 points for plastic packaging. The end result of our influence on the decree is satisfactory even though by our own calculations an adequate amount for recycling packaging waste would be attained with an even smaller number of take-back points. The present public collection network largely maintained by municipalities has over 4,000 collection points. Only glass and metals are collected from about half of these, which is inconvenient from the consumers’ point of view. Board and carton packaging is collected at about 2,000 points while plastic is hardly collected at all.
The take-back scheme under the remit of producers will be planned on a national scale, which will enhance the consumers’ possibilities to take back a wider variety of packaging materials for recycling. All take-back points will accept at least fibre, glass and metal packaging and 500 will also accept plastic packaging. From now on the sorting instructions will be the same for the whole of Finland whereas now they vary depending on the locality.
A joint decision taken by the producer organisations representing the various packaging materials to transfer the take-back of consumer packaging to the remit of PYR will create synergy and increase efficiency. Nevertheless, a wider-ranging remit will raise costs, which will be seen in rising recovery fees over the coming years. Our task is to attend to the new legal requirements as efficiently as possible. This will require good planning, putting out tenders for operational functions and selecting the best cooperation partners.
In several countries, such as Sweden, Norway, Austria, and Germany, producers have been responsible for implementing the take-back of consumer packaging for many years now. The extension of producer responsibility in Finland as well is one element of a broader European trend towards a circular economy where the role of producers is growing. At the same time there will be an increase in the number of consumers who will appreciate firms that take care of the environment and of the future. From now on PYR’s member firms will be able to convey a stronger message to their customers that they are taking care of the recycling of packaging.