Industry Voices Serious Concerns on Single Use Plastics Proposal at British Chamber of Commerce in Brussels Debate
British Chamber of Commerce | EU & Belgium:
Just two days before a crucial Parliamentary vote, a debate on the workability of the EU Commission’s proposal to limit the impact of single use plastics on the marine environment has raised pressing concerns from industry and senior policy experts.
Amongst these concerns were the flaws of the impact assessment by the Commission, which neglected to estimate costs to industry of the proposals. The debate also heard that the far-reaching amendments proposed by the European Parliament, which will be voted on Wednesday 10 October, should be subject to a social and economic impact assessment based on real evidence and data.
Chairing the debate James Stevens, Partner at Rud Pedersen and Chair of the Energy, Transport and Chemicals Task Force at the British Chamber of Commerce pointed out: “The event was a great example of what the Chamber does best: bringing together institutional actors with representatives of wide range of interests from across its broad membership base to discuss a current legislative proposal. While for many in the institutions the adoption of the Commission’s proposal on single use plastics will be a political win just before the European elections, it was clear from the debate that much of the detail, and therefore the impact on industry, will not be clear for some time to come. It may well be another example of how the speed of the legislative process is often inversely proportionate to the quality of the final legislation.”
Representing the EU Commission, Hugo-Maria Schally, Head of Unit at the European Commission’s DG Environment, said that speed at which this proposal has been pushed reflected the urgency of the problem to clean up single use plastics from the marine environment. Yet according to industry representatives present, the proposal risked Member State fragmentation, meaning the EU would end up with 27 different ecodesign schemes from the 27 different Member States, and with no predictability for industry as to either the cost or effectiveness of the investment.
Speaking on the panel, Virginia Janssens, Managing Director of the European Organization for Packaging & the Environment (EuroPEN) highlighted the overlap with the Waste Framework Directive which already obliges Member States to tackle marine litter and provides a framework for establishing Extended Producer Responsibility schemes, under which producers are given a significant financial responsibility.
According to senior policy expert Vicky Marissen, Partner at EPPA, the principle of subsidiarity means Member States should have the opportunity to implement the Waste Directive first before implementing additional legislation.
Widely attended by British Chamber members from across various industries, the event concluded by emphasising that the key to success is not just political will, but legislation that offers legal certainty and regulatory coherence for business, in order to achieve the environmental ambitions of legislators, industry and other stakeholders.
Speakers at the event included:
- Hugo-Maria Schally, Head of Unit for " Sustainable production, products and consumption " at the European Commission
- Virginia Janssens, Managing Director for the European Organization for Packaging and the Environment | EUROPEN aisbl
- Vicky Marissen, Partner, EPPA
About the British Chamber of Commerce | EU & Belgium
We are a not-for-profit serving our members by facilitating business in Belgium and engaging with the European Union and its decision making. The chamber has been serving the international business community here for over 100 years. Our members are small to large businesses from Britain and across the world - all with a stake in the success of Europe and its economy. They employ 1.2m people in the UK alone, with at least as many again in the rest of Europe. www.britishchamber.be
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