Editorial 9.12.2021

How to share the responsibility?

Juha-Heikki Tanskanen
Juha-Heikki Tanskanen

In an interview with Rinki online magazine, Krista Mikkonen, Minister of the Interior, mentions producer responsibility as being one of the cornerstones of circular economy. Mikkonen believes that producer responsibility must be further extended and made more transparent. The continuous extension of the producer responsibility shows that majority of the decision-makers share Minister Mikkonen’s views. 

 When we discuss extending responsibility, we should also consider sharing it. The latest amendment to the Waste Act, which encourages packaging producers and municipalities to work together in the collection of packaging waste from residential properties, is an example of an insightful sharing of responsibilities.  

 Packaging producers will pay significantly more but there are also incentives. Finland will apply the exception offered by the EU, which limits producers’ liability for costs from 100 percent to at least 80 percent. The solution makes it easier to meet the rapidly tightening requirements and to bring new companies under the producer responsibility system. Sorting services for households are improving, and the volume of waste-related business is growing.  

 Yet there are examples of when the sharing of responsibilities is not working in an ideal way. One of them is the liability of the producers to pay the costs of cleaning public areas carried out by municipalities as required by the SUP Directive, which is being drafted. Companies that use certain types of single-use plastic packaging will be liable for costs on a level at which they have no say. The administration is busy as money goes from one pocket to another. It’s also difficult for many companies to understand why they are paying for littering done by consumers. 

 What next for the producer responsibility scheme? The European Commission is reforming the Packaging Waste Directive, and it is expected that there will be proposals on issues such as replacing single-use packaging with reusable ones and using recycled materials as raw materials for products. The idea is to have more direct control over product design and consumer behaviour in addition to recycling waste. The Commission’s proposal for the directive is expected to be published in spring 2022. 

We can be sure of one thing: 2022 will not be a quiet year in the packaging producer responsibility sector. 

Juha-Heikki Tanskanen
CEO, Finnish Packaging Recycling RINKI Ltd