European Commission asks France to amend definition of packaging, packaging waste in national legislation as required by EU; country has two months to make changes, avoid legal action

BRUSSELS , January 27, 2012 (press release) – The European Commission is concerned that France has incorrectly implemented the definition of packaging and packaging waste in its national law, as required by EU waste legislation. On the recommendation of Environment Commissioner Janez Poto─Źnik, the Commission is sending France a reasoned opinion to ask it to amend its national legislation accordingly. If France fails to reply within two months, the Commission may refer the case to the European Court of Justice.

Directive 94/62/EC on packaging and packaging waste covers all packaging waste regardless of the material used, and is intended to reduce the volume of waste and encourage sustainable growth. The Directive sets criteria for defining packaging and packaging waste that Member States are required to translate into their national legislation. The definition is important as it determines the scope of application of the Directive. According to the Commission, France has not yet transposed the criteria jointly decided at EU level into its domestic law, which could lead to the packaging waste rules not being applied to all the relevant items. As a consequence, the Commission sent France a letter of formal notice on 15 May 2011. France has agreed to amend its domestic law but the Commission has concerns about the pace of the changes and is therefore sending a reasoned opinion.

Background

The packaging Directive aims to prevent and reduce packaging and packaging waste. It requires Member States to prevent the formation of packaging waste, to ensure that the weight and volume of packaging placed on the market is limited to the minimum, and to develop packaging reuse systems reducing their impact on the environment. It also introduces recovery and recycling targets for glass, paper, cardboard, metal, plastics and wood packaging that were to be met by France by 2008. It covers all packaging throughout the production and consumption chain. Infringement proceedings against Poland are also at the reasoned opinion stage for this directive (see IP/11/1275).

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