PYR and the producer organisations are well advanced in planning a take-back network for consumer packaging even though we are still waiting for the decree on packaging waste and confirmation of the final number of take-back points. The desired extra time postponing the entry into force of extended producer responsibility (EPR) was attained when an amendment to the Waste Act 646/2011 was made this January concerning the transition period. EPR will come into force in May 2015 and take-back of consumer packaging must be started in January 2016.
The essential aims of the producer take-back network are cost-effectiveness, the recyclability of collected materials and a satisfied consumer. The draft decree states that producers will have to set up 2,000 take-back points for fibre, glass and metal packaging and 500 for plastic packaging, evenly distributed by region throughout the country. In addition, the Parliamentary Committee for the Environment stipulated that the take-back points should be situated in locations connected to retail outlets, other public services and thoroughfares.
Efficient implementation of the take-back scheme requires careful planning concerning the location, maintenance and cleaning of the points as well as the selection of waste containers and logistics. With this in mind, we examined the number and location of existing take-back points. There are 4,800 points in the network, for the main part organised by municipalities, some of which comply with the requirements of the decree governing the producer network. However, there is great variation in the location and level of service between the points. Nor do they fully cover the forthcoming requirements. There is no take-back point in all districts with over 500 inhabitants, as required by the new decree; most of them are situated in locations other than public service centres, and in 60 per cent of the points only one or two materials are collected.
The core principle of producer take-back is predicated on take-back points that are located in retail and public service centres with convenient access for consumers. They will be supplemented by take-back points to be located in smaller districts, as required by law. We would like to negotiate with existing operators in a spirit of cooperation on how the points presently in use may be utilised and how many new points may be required. Our aim is an efficient integral whole with sufficient accessibility for all consumers.
The major part of EPR costs will be incurred in the take-back of consumer packaging. If the same quantity of packaging waste, amounting to some 40,000 tonnes per year, could be collected at producer take-back points as is collected at existing municipal reception points, it would correspond to just under 10% of all recyclable packaging waste in Finland, which totalled 490,000 tonnes in 2011. In this respect, EPR is for trade and industry a statutory consumer service task as well as being a recycling obligation. From now on, take-back and recycling of packaging constitutes a more explicit component of the total range of services available to the consumer.