What are the latest developments concerning environmental legislation globally? We’ve picked out some highlights for you for April 2021.

Discussions begin on Battery Regulation

The European Parliament and the Council of the European Union have begun consultations on the new Battery Regulation. In the coming months, the two institutions will discuss possible amendments to the European Commission’s proposal: first separately, then jointly within trialogue negotiations.

On 17 March, the Parliament’s lead Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) held a first exchange of views on the proposal. Representatives of the Commission took part in the meeting, as well as the rapporteurs and shadow rapporteurs who are the responsible experts from the political groups. In general, the MEPs welcomed the Commission’s proposal.

The rapporteur Antonius Manders (EPP, Netherlands) emphasised the expected positive effects the new regulation will have on the competitiveness and resilience of European industry, as well as on the labour market. Claudia Gamon (Renew Europe, Austria) stressed the importance of extended producer responsibility (EPR) to meeting Europe’s green goals.

All in all, the statements of the MEPs were rather general but, in a next step, the rapporteur will present a detailed report on the dossier including proposals for amendments.

On 18 March, the proposal was then discussed within the Council of the European Union. The Portuguese Council Presidency had sent a document with several questions to the Member States in advance, which was discussed at the meeting.

With regard to collection targets for portable batteries, several representatives stressed the importance of a realistic calculation method that is based on the volume of batteries available for collection rather than the put on market volume.

Moreover, most Member States’ representatives question the need for a regulation and expressed concerns that a harmonisation of EPR requirements may pose a threat to already existing and well-functioning EPR schemes. Discussions within the Member States will continue in the coming months.

The Commission’s proposal for the new Battery Regulation was published in December last year. Landbell Group company European Recycling Platform submitted a position paper and will continue to contribute to the discussions, meeting MEPs and representatives of the Member States.

Improving takeback of small WEEE

The European Commission aims to improve the separate collection of small waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), such as mobile phones or tablets, and has contracted a study to evaluate possible policy options. The study is being conducted by the consultancy Ramboll.

At a recent workshop, the company presented its first interim results and discussed them with stakeholders. Landbell Group company European Recycling Platform (ERP) took part in the workshop.

The study aims to assess opportunities and challenges associated with the collection of small WEEE, to present an overview of different takeback schemes and to provide recommendations to improve collection.

At the workshop, stakeholders were particularly interested in the study’s draft recommendations which include financial incentives for consumers, door-to-door services and a database of drop-off points. Stakeholders particularly requested the definition of clear criteria for distinguishing between EEE and WEEE (end-of-waste criteria).

ERP has already participated in a stakeholder survey on the topic that was carried out by Ramboll last year (see earlier COMPASS article). The final study is set to be published in April.

Ecodesign and Energy Labelling Work Plan

The consultants contracted by the European Commission have published further interim results from their preparatory study for the Ecodesign and Energy Labelling Work Plan 2020-2024. The working plan is part of the Circular Economy Action Plan and aims to set new requirements for the ecodesign and labelling of energy-related products.

The preparatory study aims to inform and support the European Commission in the implementation of the Ecodesign and Energy Labelling Work Plan. It is being carried out by the consultants Viegand Maagøe, VHK and Oeko-Institut.

The recently published interim results were discussed at a stakeholder workshop on 26 March, which Landbell Group company European Recycling Platform attended. The study developed a methodology for identifying and prioritising products and analysing 160 product groups. This resulted in 16 product groups and horizontal initiatives to be covered by the working plan, including ‘recycled content’, ‘durability’ and ‘scarce and critical raw materials’.

The final study is expected to be published in April. Following this, the Commission aims for an adoption of the working plan in September.

German government adopts regulation on treatment of WEEE

The German government has adopted a regulation on requirements for the treatment of WEEE. The new rules aim to adapt the existing treatment requirements, which have remained unchanged since 2005, to technical progress and to consider new material compositions and relatively new products such as flat screens or LED lamps.

The regulation transfers the current Annex 4 of the Electrical and Electronic Equipment Act (ElektroG) on the treatment of WEEE into a separate legal act and adds requirements for the removal of pollutants and the protection of resources. It also introduces treatment requirements for photovoltaic modules, which have only been within the scope of the ElektroG since 2015.

If agreed by the country’s Upper House (Bundesrat), the regulation is set to enter into force on 1 January 2022.

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