On 8th October, the British Chamber of Commerce held an event on Single-use Plastics and how industry can deliver, which included three high level speakers: Hugo-Maria Schally, Head of Unit, " Sustainable production, products and consumption " at the European Commission, Virginia Janssens, Managing Director for the European Organization for Packaging and the Environment | EUROPEN aisbl, and Vicky Marissen, Partner at EPPA.
After a brief introduction by event chair James Stevens, the floor was handed to Mr Schally, whose presentation contained a great insight into the Commission’s opinions on SUP and why they needed to act fast in limiting its production and use. With recent scientific reports stating that there are only 12 years left to ‘save the planet’, it is clear what the Commissions’ intentions are. Some of the key points that Hugo-Maria made were related to the focus on plastic that is likely to be littered, for example bottle caps. The proposal suggests that the caps are attached to bottles in the future, meaning they are less likely to be littered, thus reducing the chances of ending up waterways. Furthermore, Mr Schally pointed out that the Commission was not anti-plastic, but that they wished for the system to be circular, thus environmentally friendly. Furthermore, if plastics were to be replaced by another material, the new product must have the same properties and qualities, otherwise, it could negatively impact the consumer.
Virginia Janssens followed on from Hugo-Maria, speaking about how there needs to be an agreement on clean up fees, specifically what proportion each actor is paying. She stated that this was not clear from the Commission and that the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) needs to be more transparent. This was backed up by Vicky Marissen who highlighted inconsistencies in EPR and that the enforcement of EPR needs to be much stronger. Vicky was also very clear in expressing how ambitious this regulation was, particularly when considering its short time frame.
Following the three presentations, the floor was opened for a Q&A which many members used to express their opinions and concerns about the new legislation. There was a lot of debate during the Q&A, which was beneficial to all as it allowed parties to have their feelings to be truly expressed. Concerns about EPR and its lack of clarity were addressed along with why some plastics were singled out in the proposal and others weren’t. In addition, issues concerning the difference in types of food packaging and single-use food packaging were also addressed.
Following the event, James Stevens, Partner at Rud Pedersen and Chair of the Energy, Transport and Chemicals Task Force at the Chamber provided a quote on his experience, stating “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”
Head of Unit, " Sustainable production, products and consumption " at the European Commission | European Commission
He holds a doctorate in law from the University of Graz/Austria and is a graduate of the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna/Austria. After having worked for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Vienna, he has since 1998 held several positions as head of unit in the DGs for External Relations, Development and Environment of the European Commission. He is currently head of unit for "Sustainable Production, Products and Consumption" in the Directorate for "Circular Economy and Green Growth" of DG Environment of the European Commission. In that capacity, he is responsible for coordinating the implementation of the EU Circular Economy Action Plan. This includes the preparation and implementation of EU policies and instruments supporting the transition to a circular economy, such as inter alia EMAS, the European Eco-label, Green Public Procurement, the European plastics strategy and the follow up to the pilot project on the environmental footprint of products and organisations (PEF/OEF).
Partner | EPPA
Vicky is a Partner at EPPA, a consultancy firm specialized in EU Public affairs focusing specifically on secondary legislation. She has extensive expertise with regard to advocacy on environmental, food and pharmaceutical files and is an expert in EU decision-making. Vicky is Visiting Professor at the College of Europe on secondary legislation. She also lectures at EDHEC Business School. Vicky is co-author of the ‘Handbook on EU secondary legislation’ and the ‘Practical Guide to the EU Labyrinth’. She has contributed to other books and articles on EU decision-making, lobbying and comitology (secondary legislation). She is a regular speaker on these topics. Before joining EPPA, Vicky was Managing Director of PACT European Affairs, and Managing Director/member of the Board of European Training Institute. She holds a law degree and a Master in European law and is a Belgian national.
Managing Director for the European Organization for Packaging and the Environment | EUROPEN aisbl
Virginia Janssens is Managing Director for the European Organization for Packaging and the Environment (EUROPEN) since July 2012. EUROPEN is a unique cross-sectoral EU industry association in Brussels, presenting the opinion of the packaging supply chain in Europe, regardless of the packaging material or system. EUROPEN members are comprised of multinational corporate companies spanning the packaging supply chain (raw material producers, packaging converters and brand owners) plus eight national packaging organizations all committed to continuously improving the environmental performances of packaged products, in collaboration with their suppliers and customers.