Legislation 5.12.2018

The changing waste legislation tightens requirements

Finland’s waste legislation needs to be adapted to the new EU directives. The government is determining whether the new obligations could be met by fine-tuning and rationalising the current systems or whether some of the features need to be completely revamped.

The new waste legislation package was introduced in July 2018. The strategy published by the EU includes changes to both the Waste Directive and the Packaging Waste Directive.

Tarja-Riitta Blauberg, Ministerial Adviser at the Ministry of the Environment, says that the Packaging Waste Directive sets considerably higher recycling targets for plastic packaging and wooden packaging in particular.

– In 2025, the recycling target for plastic packaging is 50 percent and in 2030 as high as 55 percent. The corresponding figures for wooden packaging are 25 and 30.

– Another significant change is that the producer responsibility for packaging should apply to all types of packaging. We need to consider whether the producer responsibility should also be extended to include those companies that have a turnover of less than one million euros.

The Waste Directive sets more stringent recycling targets for different materials, especially paper, metal, plastic, glass and, from 2025, textiles.

– The Waste Directive requirements may also mean that the role and responsibilities of all partners involved in recycling operations must be redefined.

Studies are being carried out

Studies are being carried out to assess the measures required to ensure that Finland can achieve the targets set out in the directive.

– For example, an extensive study on recycling municipal waste and circular economy (the JÄTEKIVA project) is exploring how recycling could be rationalised through various policies. It also assesses the performance of the current producer responsibility scheme for packaging.

Blauberg says that one of the questions that needs to be considered now is whether there should be property-specific collection obligations so that the separate collection obligations for different materials in municipal waste could be achieved.

– It also needs to clarify whether the costs of property-specific collections are part of the producers’ cost liability.

Plastic packaging – and other types of plastic?

Blauberg points out that the EU Commission has already recommended that in terms of municipal waste collection, the fragmented field of different operators in Finland should be harmonised.

– The recommendations are not binding, but it would be advisable to consider these issues seriously when preparing the legislation. The collaboration between the various operators must be strengthened.

– One question to be considered is how to collect other plastic waste together with plastic packaging waste.

Cutting costs

The waste legislation means that there is a more specific EU-level definition of the producers’ cost liability; according to the directive, this is at least 80 per cent of the costs of separate collection and treatment of packaging waste and related communications and reporting.

– It is necessary to assess the producers’ current cost share and if this should be changed – and whether the costs of collecting from properties are included in this or not.

The Packaging Waste Directive also presumes that the level of producers’ waste fees is determined by how durable, repairable, reusable and recyclable the packaging is, which will also result in changes to current practices.

– The optional reporting on the reuse of packaging to the EU will become obligatory.

New ways to calculate the recycling rates

There will also be stricter regulations for the way the recycling rates are calculated. Blauberg says that the calculations will aim to take into account the materials rejected during the pre-treatment process, which will have to be deduced from the volume of recycled material.

– These calculation methods are not in place yet. The Commission will pass more detailed regulations by the end of next March.

Constructive collaboration

According to Blauberg, legislative work is now being carried out on a tight schedule, and there are numerous things and details to clarify.

– The producer organisations have been involved in the process since it started, and the collaboration has been constructive. It may be a good idea to find completely new ways to work in the future.

The deadline for changing the national legislation is the beginning of July 2020.

– It is difficult to say how big structural changes we need to make, or if it is enough to streamline and adjust the current system.



Text: Matti Välimäki