Editorial 28.2.2020

Producers’ equal responsibility improves the accuracy of statistics

Juha-Heikki Tanskanen
Juha-Heikki Tanskanen

The ongoing amendment to the Waste Act will expand packaging producers’ responsibility to include foreign companies that sell products directly to consumers online. The Waste Act is to be further amended so that producers whose turnover is less than one million euros will also be included in the producer responsibility scheme.

The planned changes are important in terms of equal treatment of companies, and they will improve the accuracy of the packaging statistics.

According to the packaging statistics published last autumn, the amount of packaging waste in Finland was 740,000 tonnes in 2018. The statistics are quite reliable, but they only reflect the packaging waste from companies that have been subject to producer responsibility and have fulfilled their obligations by joining either Rinki or deposit systems.

The Waste Act is to be further amended so that producers whose turnover is less than one million euros will also be included in the producer responsibility scheme.

According to a report drawn up by Rinki and Statistics Finland for the Ministry of the Environment, about 15% of packaging waste comes from activities that are not currently covered or managed by the producer responsibility scheme (Reports of the Ministry of the Environment 23/2015, in Finnish). Calculated this way, the amount of packaging waste was 870,000 tonnes in 2018.

It is good that the legal responsibility of companies for the recycling of packaging will not depend on their location or size in the future. However, an amendment to the Waste Act is only the beginning of the change.

There is also a need for investments to be made in sharing information with the companies coming to the producer responsibility scheme as a result of the change in the law as well as in monitoring free riders.