From January 2006 to August of this year I have had the honour and pleasure to inform you, our readers, about the final stage of the packaging chain in terms of recycling and recovery. PYR Ltd has been working in conjunction with producer organisations and other stakeholders and Finland has successfully attained the recovery targets set for packaging. I have constantly emphasised that the significance of packaging and packing is in a realm quite different to waste management. The principal functions of packaging are to protect products from the environment and the environment from the products, to be part of a sophisticated supply chain and to prevent the generation of other waste.
The draft of the decree on packaging has been finalised during the summer. The delay with the decree is due to the difficulty it poses for the drafters of the statute, the supervisory authorities and the packers and importers of packed products.
Section 1 of the Waste Act states the purpose and aim of the act is to prevent hazard and harm to health and the environment caused by waste and waste management, to reduce the quantity and harmful effects of waste, to promote sustainable use of natural resources, to ensure effective waste management and to prevent littering. This aim cannot be derogated from by other requirements. Section 49 of the Waste Act states that it should be possible to return products effortlessly and free of charge to take-back facilities organised by the producers. Products within the remit of producer responsibility should be collected separately for recycling, while the producer is responsible for alternative recovery and final disposal of the unrecyclable fraction within the scheme. Throughout the entire scheme consideration should be given to environmental impacts caused by the scheme. Packers and importers of packed products cannot be required to provide basic waste management for discarded packaging other than taking care of the fraction within the remit of producer responsibility according to the Waste Act.
The new Waste Decree 179/2012 sets a 50% recycling target for municipal solid waste (MSW), for which municipalities and firms, among other bodies, are responsible. Within MSW about one-third is packaging, of which 59% is already recycled at present. Further recycling requirements for packaging waste or stringent demands imposed on a takeback network will not substantially increase the recycling of MSW, but will lead to a burden on the environment as well as unreasonable costs and investments for the packing industry and retail trade.
I know that sooner or later solutions to these problems will be found through cooperation between the different bodies. Nevertheless, I hope that costs and environmental impacts will be held in check. I have retired at the beginning of August and will no longer take part in the implementation of the new Packaging Decree. PYR’s new Managing Director, Juha-Heikki Tanskanen, will carry on the work that has run well. It is time for me to say, “Good-bye.” Bring home a good result!