WHY DOES THE E.U. ALWAYS PICK ON PACKAGING?
A photograph of one tonne of CO2 has never been viewed but most politicians are more then ready to start a ruckus about packaging waste that is visible to consumers each and every day.
This statement made by an executive for a well known national packaging manufacturing company sums up perfectly why packaging still remains as one of the most common environmental scapegoats and why there has been an increase in the damaging attacks from politicians that will more then likely increase in the coming years.
Sometime later in the year EU Leaders will meet for a mid year review of the progress toward the achievement of the 2010 goals that have been set up for the European economy. Europe has been falling behind their competition as recently signaled by the Kok Report. It is because of this reason that European government is quite unlikely to advocate for an increase in environmental legislation.
Climate change with it's emissions trading scheme already in place and chemical proposals known as REACH are two environmental programmes that are causing a great deal of problems among industrial leader that fear they will be seen as a burden at a later date when the European community is in a struggle to keep up economically with the growth rates of both North American and Asian countries.
In is exactly because of this demand for more environmental regulations in some areas that packaging will continue to be a very easy target for politicians that want to be viewed as caring about environmental issues.
While the year 2004 marked the 10th passing of the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive and a huge part of those years have been spent clearing up issues related to recovery and recycling of packaging and if the current trend concerning regulations on packaging and packaged goods continues to become more complex there will be potentially higher risks for the packaging industry.
At the forefront of the new attacks on packaging is the truly alarming notion being heard from many officials that packaging is harmful to the environment thus it is economically damaging and the solution to this lies in it's taxation. This message was heard loud and clear from Belgian Prime Minister, Guy Verofstady who announced a large increase on packaging.
Belgium government introduced taxes on non-refillable beverage containers at an increase of 50%. Because of this new tax a good amount of the taxes on some products and more expensive then the actual product.
Is packaging doomed to become the next product (like tobacco for example) that governments will use to raise tax revenues? New legislation trends have been seen in Hungary for the continuation of product fees on packaged goods while still keeping producers responsible to contribute to packaging waste recovery programs. And it appears that the German government is bound and determined to enshrine legislation using the concept of good and bad packaging which would most definitely encourage even more discrimination. There has been little opposition to these ideas from the European Commission.
If developments and those similar to them continue on uncontested by the packaging industry they will start to threaten every aspect of the packaging industry thus narrowing choices for packing and packaging materials. This will definitely risk innovations in the packaging industry which is really a huge part of our business.