English 13.12.2013

There is opportunity in change

Extended producer responsibility for packaging is almost upon us. Consultation on the proposals by the Ministry of Environment concerning the new packaging decree and the revised Waste Act 646/2011 took place in the summer. Packers and importers of packed products will be responsible for the collection of consumer packaging in addition to recycling. All Finns will be potential users of the producers’ new network of collection points.

The revision of the act is estimated to increase the costs of producer responsibility for packaging considerably. According to the draft decree, producers would have to establish a country-wide collection network for consumer packaging comprising 2,000 take-back points for fibre, glass and metal packaging and 500 for plastics. In their responses during consultation PYR and the producer organisations proposed that a suitable number of points for fibre, glass and metals would be 1,000 and for plastic packaging 300. A good level of service can be attained cost-effectively with as low an amount of transport emissions as possible by locating the take-back points in local service centres where consumers will in any case have matters to attend to. At the time of writing the number of these points has not yet been finalised.

What is it that costs in the new producer responsibility requirement? Is recycling viable or not? Only a few kinds of waste correspond in value to the costs of their collection and recycling. Legislation and state waste management taxes drive the recycling of materials more efficiently than the shortage of virgin raw materials does.

It will be especially challenging to set up efficient logistics system for the
collection of consumer packaging. This packaging arises in 2,500,000 households. Furthermore, it is important to remember that sorting does not constitute recycling as such. Sorted material should be of sufficiently good quality to allow it to be used as raw material for production.

Even though the packaging decree is not yet ready, a scheme is already being planned through cooperation between PYR and the producer organisations. The aim is to set up country-wide, easily recognisable collection points to which consumers can easily return packaging. The points could use uniform sorting instructions to improve the quality of the materials received.

I joined PYR as Managing Director in August. I have become part of an interesting and challenging phase of change. We will boldly take up this challenge and cooperate to establish a collection scheme that meets the requirements set for packaging, is efficient and serves consumers. Recycling is an important and positive issue for most consumers.

In conclusion, I would like to thank my predecessor, Annukka Leppänen-Turkula, for her successful and long-term management of PYR.

I wish all our readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year for 2014.

Current News Juha-Heikki Tanskanen