English 7.12.2016

New year, new fees

In 2017, the recycling fees for plastic packaging will be reduced, while the fees for glass and industrial fibre-based packaging will remain the same. The fees for recycling other materials will go up. Rinki's fees will also remain the same. "Rinki's membership fees for 2017 will be the same as in 2016," says Rinki's CEO Juha-Heikki Tanskanen.

The Rinki fees cover the basic services determined by the producer responsibility obligations, such as packaging statistics and advice for member firms.

“Rinki focuses on minimising the overall cost of producer responsibility paid by the companies. For this reason, the cost-effectiveness of the collection of consumer packaging and recycling of glass packaging is also extremely important for us,” Tanskanen explains.

The recycling fees for packaging materials have also been decided. One issue that affects these fees is the expansion of producer responsibility as of 2016: the producers must now organise the collection and recycling of packages that end up with consumers; this was previously the duty of municipalities. The Waste Act also stipulates that producer organisations, in order to secure their operations, must have sufficient financial resources to be able to bear the obligations for at least six months, and this is reflected in the recycling fees.

Recycling fees for plastic are going down

Unlike the fees for other packaging materials, the fees for plastic will go down next year.

“There are four reasons for this. Firstly, we had prepared ourselves to be able to cover the statutory obligations on behalf of the producers in all situations. Recycling of plastic packaging used by consumers had just been introduced, and it was difficult to foresee the costs,” says Vesa Soini, Suomen Uusiomuovi Oy’s managing director.

“We were prepared to meet the statutory solvency requirement, and we have now achieved this.”

Soini points out that the number of eco take-back points as determined in the Packaging Waste Decree was reached in July.

“The amount of material collected will, therefore, be small this year.”

On the other hand, it appears that the containers, presses and front load containers placed at the collection points are more efficient than we expected.”

Soini says that the goal is to keep the recycling fees stable and as predictable as possible over the next few years.

“This, however, would presume that the legislation won’t set new obligations for producers.”

The aim is to encourage consumers to recycle plastic packaging.

“We’d like to thank everyone using the network for following the quality guidelines so closely. The Ekokem plastic refinery has been able to produce high-quality recycled plastic granulates for manufacturers of new plastic products. Following the guidelines precisely will also allow efficient recycling of plastic packaging in the future,” says Soini.

Income from fees for recycling wooden packaging to cover the costs

The recycling fee for wooden packaging will increase from 0.65 euros to 0.85 euros at the beginning of next year. According to Jukka Ala-Viikari, Puupakkausten Kierrätys PPK Oy’s managing director, the reason for this increase is simple: the income collected from the fees must cover the costs.

“The expansion of the producer responsibility hasn’t had the same effect on the recycling fees for wooden packaging as it has had on other producer organisations, since we already had the required number of take-back points in place.”

Ala-Viikari says that the number of take-back points has increased, nevertheless, and there are 67 of them now. What he finds especially challenging is fulfilling the recycling obligation. For wooden packaging, this is set at 17 percent of packaging material produced.

“Our forests produce more wood than we use.”

Ala-Viikari would like to advise producers that it will be a good idea to carefully read the packaging data declaration form and the instructions before filling in the form and sending it in. The official statistics and the material-specific recycling information rely on the data in the form.

“You can save a lot of money by filling in the form carefully as the fees payable by a company will be determined by this data,” he says.

Corrugated cardboard, carton and paper packaging:
pressure on fees from the take-back network

The fees for recycling corrugated cardboard, carton, paper and carton liquid packaging used by consumers will increase. Suomen Kuitukierrätys Oy’s managing director Juha-Pekka Salmi explains that this is caused by the expansion of the producer responsibility and, following this, the costs incurred from the take-back point network.

“The worst-case scenario came true: the eco take-back point network wasn’t completed on schedule, and this means that the recycling costs of carton packaging for this year and also next year are higher than we projected in 2015.”

The take-back point network is finished in terms of the number of the points and the coverage, but according to Salmi, the emptying process is not entirely optimal.

“The biggest challenges come from the fact that the largest take-back points still don’t have the carton presses while the emptying schedules for the smaller containers need to be fine-tuned.”

The recycling fees for industrial wrapping, sacks and cores will remain at this year’s level.

“These materials don’t end up in the Rinki eco take-back points. There is a contract for the collection of industrial transport packaging, which is collected efficiently in large quantities, and the costs have not changed.”

Salmi does not consider reaching the recycling targets to be a problem.

“We can easily meet the targets for transport packaging, i.e. corrugated cardboard and industrial fibres, through efficient collection logistics and recycling. The recycling costs for carton has gone up, and this, of course, increases the solvency requirement and might make it necessary to rise the recycling fees.

Salmi says that there is a shortage of recyclable fibres and a huge demand for corrugated cardboard, and carton is also efficiently recycled.

“The only problem we have, really, is the costs incurred from the 20,000 tonnes of carton collected from the eco take-back points, which is only around 7 percent of all fibre packaging. It is, however, very important that packaging used by consumers are also recycled. By working together efficiently and by keeping costs down, we will save money and the environment. Measuring is easy: recycling levels that meet the targets and costs per a tonne of material.

Number of metal packaging in decline

In 2017, Mepak-Kierrätys Oy will have to rise the recycling fees for metal packaging used by both consumers and businesses a lot more than expected.

“The total amount of metal packaging brought to the market decreased in 2015, which significantly lowered Mepak’s income from recycling fees this year. At the same time, the actual costs of collection logistics for consumer packaging have been higher than projected, and this is why the costs of the consumer packaging collection have gone up,” says Tapani Sievänen, managing director of Mepak-Kierrätys Oy.

For the first time, Mepak invited tenders for the metal waste collected from households and negotiated sales agreements with all metal recycling companies. The price of metal waste is very low at the moment because of the recession, and the income from the sales of household metal waste only covers a small part of the collection logistics costs.

“The solvency requirement enhances the pressure to increase the recycling fees, as an increased level of equity is required when the operational costs go up.”

Mepak is collaborating with other producer organisations and Rinki to ensure that the 2018 recycling fees will be lower than the fees next year. It will continue to work together with waste processing plants to rationalise the collection of household metal packaging and small metals as this makes sense in terms of the environment and the collection logistics.

“We have joint collection contracts in place with almost all major municipal waste management companies, which significantly improve the household collection logistics and lower the collection costs,” says Sievänen.

In addition to these measures, Mepak will also need to plan and implement structural reforms in its operations in order to bring the costs down to the target level.

Recycling fees for glass collection kept in check

The recycling fees for non-deposit glass packaging will remain at this year’s level. In anticipation of the expansion of the producer responsibility, the fees in 2014 and 2015 were kept at a level that guaranteed a sufficient income.

“We were ready for the changes and costs brought about by the expanded producer responsibility. Some of the new operations were launched in 2015, the others in 2016. We aim to keep the recycling fees at a steady level from one year to the next,” says Maija Peltola, who is the managing director at Suomen Keräyslasiyhdistys ry.

At the moment, there are 38 reception terminals in the network as well as around 1,900 eco take-back points with glass collection facilities for consumers.

“We will continue to develop this network and our operations over the coming years so that we can ensure that we meet the recycling targets in a cost-efficient way.”

Finns are eager to recycle glass packaging.

“We have received more glass packaging waste than we expected, and we’ll surpass the statutory requirements,” says Peltola.
In Peltola’s opinion, the biggest challenge is the quality of the material collected. Glass packaging containers are still used for the disposal of ceramic objects, such as broken dishes, and healthcare waste, e.g. vials and ampoules.

“We need to offer the public clearer recycling instructions. If we can improve the quality of the material we collect, we can find a wider range of uses for it.”

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