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

European Commission proposes new legislation for batteries

8 January 2021

The European Commission has released a proposal to modernise the regulatory framework for batteries.

The aim of the new regulation is to ensure batteries are sustainable, efficient and safe throughout their entire life cycle.

The initiative is part of the Commission’s New Action Plan for the Circular Economy and aims to address the high strategic importance of batteries for the European economy.

The proposal includes the following amendments to the regulatory framework:

  • Convert the legislation from a directive to a regulation to ensure harmonised rules between Member States
  • Introduce mandatory requirements for all batteries (industrial, automotive, electric vehicle and portable) newly placed on the European market, e.g. regarding the sourcing of materials used, the use of hazardous substances, the content of recycled materials, the performance, durability and carbon footprint
  • Increase the collection rate for waste portable batteries from 45% to 65% by 2025 and to 70% by 2030
  • Increase battery recycling efficiency targets and introduce new targets for recovered materials  
  • Implement EPR obligation for manufacturers to take back all batteries (industrial, automotive, electric vehicle and portable)

Stakeholders have until 1 March 2021 to comment on the Commission’s proposal. The regulation is set to apply  from 1st January 2022.

German Packaging Law yields positive results

Two years after the German Packaging Law came into force, the Foundation Central Agency Packaging Register (ZSVR) has released data – compiled in cooperation with the country’s Federal Environment Agency (UBA) – which shows that significantly more packaging is being recycled and more manufacturers are meeting their obligations than under the previous legal framework.

According to the new data, a total of 5.3 million tonnes of waste packaging was recycled in 2019, an increase of 13% compared to the previous year. For plastic packaging, the increase was as much as 50%.

The growth in recycling is driven by both the higher targets of the Packaging Law and the higher volumes of packaging resulting from the newly introduced and stricter enforcement regime.

The participation rate is over 75% and, at the end of November 2020, nearly 200,000 manufacturers were registered in the LUCID packaging register, compared to just 60,000 four years ago.

The Packaging Law has also helped to significantly reduce the number of free riders.

Further information and figures can be found in this presentation by ZVSR and UBA (in German).

Further update on the revision of the Waste Shipment Regulation

The European Commission is currently preparing a revision of the Waste Shipment Regulation (WSR) to ensure the smooth functioning of the internal waste market, support the transition towards a circular economy and ensure waste shipped to third countries is managed in an environmentally sound manner.

In September 2020, the Commission hosted a stakeholder workshop to discuss the matter with representatives from member states, businesses, associations and NGOs (see article from November’s COMPASS).

The discussions revealed the complexity of the issue, as well as differences over how to set rules that would meet the above goals. The discussions mainly revolved around the following objectives:

  • Alignment of the waste hierarchy, WSR and other EU legislation
  • Simplification and reduction of red tape for intra-EU shipments of waste
  • Harmonisation of interpretation, application and enforcement across member states
  • Improved adaptation to technical progress and stimulation of innovation
  • Stopping or restricting the export of waste outside the EU
  • Verifying environmentally sound management in destination countries
  • Further strengthening the WSR’s provisions on enforcement and inspections
  • Increasing efficiency in the fight against illegal shipments of waste at EU and national levels and strengthening cooperation across the EU and with international partners

More information on the objectives and policy options discussed can be found in the comprehensive summary of the workshop that was recently published by the Commission.