The soon-to-be law change will increase the workload and costs of smaller packaging undertakings
Amendment to the Packaging Act enters into force on 1 May, as a result of which the concessions for small packaging undertakings will disappear from the Packaging Act. This means that in the future small packaging companies will have to comply with a number of obligations under the Packaging Act, from which they are today exempt. For example, in the future, they will have to fulfil their obligations to take back packaging and ensure that the targets for the recovery of packaging waste are met.
Exemption for small packaging undertakings to disappear
The current Packaging Act (subsection 20 (7)) offers several concessions to packaging undertakings who place up to 100 kg of plastic packaging and 200 kg of other types of packaging material on the market per year. For example, such small packaging undertakings are not required to submit a packaging report to the packaging register and ensure a target for the recovery of packaging waste. Small packaging companies are also not obliged to take back sales packaging and sales packaging waste from the consumer free of charge.
According to the Packaging Act (section 10), a packaging undertaking is a person who, within the framework of economic or professional activities, packages goods and sells them on the Estonian market, imports or sells (including intermediates) packaged goods in Estonia.
From 1 May, the specifications for small packaging companies will be removed. This means that small packaging companies will have to comply with a number of new obligations.
New obligations for small packaging companies
Firstly, from 1 May, packaging undertakings placing up to 100 kg of plastic packaging and 200 kg of other types of packaging material on the market are obliged to take back free of charge the transport and grouped packaging of their goods (subsection 20 (1) of the Packaging Act).
In addition, small packaging undertakings selling packaged goods to end-users or consumers must take back sales packaging and sales packaging waste of the goods sold from them free of charge. The withdrawal requirement applies only to packaging the type, shape and size of which correspond to the packaging of the goods sold at that point of sale and to the packaging of the goods delivered by the seller of the goods (subsection 20 (2) of the Packaging Act).
Thirdly, small packaging undertakings who do not sell their goods to the end-user or consumer are obliged to ensure that the packaging and packaging waste of their goods is taken back free of charge from the end-user or consumer (subsection 20 (22) of the Packaging Act).
As an exception, packaging and packaging waste need not be taken back by the person selling packaged goods if the size of the point of sale is less than 20 square metres and it is located in a densely populated area (subsection 20 (41) of the Packaging Act).
In the future, small packaging undertakings must recycle the packaging of goods placed on the market by themselves in Estonia and the quantities of packaging waste generated therefrom in such a way that the recovery targets are met and the resulting costs are borne (section 36 of the Packaging Act). To this end, packaging undertakings shall re-use the types of packaging material at least annually to the following extent:
- 70 per cent of the total weight of glass waste recycled;
- 70 per cent of the total weight of paper and cardboard waste, with 60 per cent of the total weight recycled;
- 60 per cent of the total mass of metal waste recycled;
- 55 per cent of the total mass of plastic waste, 45 per cent of the total mass of plastic waste recycled and 22.5 per cent of the total mass of plastic waste recycled into plastic;
- 45 per cent of the total weight of wood waste, with 20 per cent of the total weight recycled.
Small packaging undertakings may transfer their new obligations to a recovery organisation
Small packaging undertakings may subsequently transfer the above obligations to a recovery organisation on the basis of a written contract by paying a service fee to the recovery organisation. If a packaging undertaking has transferred the aforementioned obligations to a recovery organisation, the recovery organisation shall be liable for the performance of the obligations (subsection 20 (4) of the Packaging Act).
If a small packaging undertaking places packaged goods on the market and has not transferred obligations to a recovery organisation, the small packaging undertaking shall submit to the packaging register once a year information concerning the quantities of packaging of goods placed on the Estonian market by the small packaging undertaking and the recovery of packaging waste generated therefrom (subsection 24 (4) of the Packaging Act).
The Chamber opposed the abolition of concessions
The Chamber did not support the abolition of incentives for small packaging companies, as this increases the costs for honest packaging undertakings, but may not achieve its objective if supervisory authorities do not start carrying out more effective controls. Neither the Ministry of the Environment nor the Environment Committee of the Riigikogu took into account the position of the Chamber with regard to this amendment.
A more detailed overview of the amendments to the Packaging Act and the Waste Act, which will enter into force on 1 May, can be found HERE.
If you have any questions about the amendments to the Packaging Act, please contact the lawyers of the Chamber by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.