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

Update on German WEEE and Packaging Law

The German Government has adopted an amendment to the country’s WEEE Law. The goal of the revision is to increase collection to reach the 65% target rate set by the European Union, as well as to strengthen the preparation for reuse of WEEE.

To achieve this goal, the government proposes to expand take-back obligations for distributors. In addition to electrical retailers, food retailers with a sales area of at least 800 square metres, which sell electrical equipment at least several times a year, will be obliged to take back WEEE. The government’s proposal is currently being debated within the country’s upper house before it goes to parliament.

In addition, the government has adopted an amendment to the Packaging Law to transpose certain provisions of the European Single-Use Plastics Directive and the Waste Framework Directive into national law and to strengthen enforcement.

Online marketplaces and fulfilment service providers will have to ensure that retailers are registered with a packaging scheme and manufacturers based outside of Germany will be able to appoint an authorised representative. This proposal still needs to be debated in both the upper house and parliament.

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EPR proposed for sustainable textiles

The European Commission has published the first key points of its planned strategy for sustainable textiles. The strategy aims to make the European textile industry more competitive, sustainable and resilient. The initiative is part of the European Green Deal, the New Action Plan for the Circular Economy, the Industrial Strategy and the Chemicals Strategy.

To increase sustainability in the European textile industry, the Commission proposes regulatory measures such as the introduction of separate recycling targets, separate collection e.g. via extended producer responsibility (EPR) for textiles, as well as voluntary approaches such as the use of the EU Ecolabel.

Textiles are a growing challenge on the path towards circularity. Each year, Europeans consume an average of 26 kilograms of textiles per person – of which 11 kilograms are discarded. It is estimated that less than 1% of textiles worldwide are recycled, which has negative consequences for the environment, climate and land use.

The key points of the textile strategy are compiled in a roadmap which can be downloaded on the Commission’s website. Stakeholders have until 2 February to submit their comments. The final strategy is to be published in the third quarter of 2021.

Revision of rules on food contact materials

The European Commission is currently evaluating the rules on food contact materials, such as food packaging, kitchen and tableware, and the machinery used in food manufacturing. The initiative aims to build a comprehensive, future-proof and enforceable regulatory framework to improve food safety, reduce food waste and support the use of sustainable packaging made from environmentally-friendly, re-usable and recyclable materials.

In order to do so, the Commission intends, among other things, to support all forms of safe re-use and recycling, including new technologies such as chemical recycling. This approach would allow for an increased uptake of recycled materials, given that materials obtained from traditional mechanical recycling often cannot be used in food contact materials for safety reasons.

The public consultation on the Commission’s roadmap ended on 29 January. Landbell Group company European Recycling Platform (ERP) contributed to the consultation with a paper welcoming the initiative. Another consultation will be launched in the coming months. The publication of the Commission’s proposed regulation is planned for the fourth quarter of 2022.

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