Agreement on the key issues in the revision of the packaging Directive was reached last summer, when the European Parliament effectively endorsed the recycling and recovery targets agreed by the Council of Ministers. But agreement on other issues was only reached in conciliation between the two institutions on 4 December.
The ruling left the UK facing the prospect of having to recycle an extra 400-500,000 tonnes of packaging on top of the extra tonnage needed to meet the 55% recycling target (ENDS Report 343, pp 41-42 ).
However, under the final conciliation deal the Directive will state explicitly that packaging recovery includes incineration with energy recovery. The deal angered environmental groups, with the European Environmental Bureau arguing that it gives equal status to disposal, recovery and recycling as regards packaging waste.
Although the decision means that incineration of packaging waste will continue to count as recovery, the ECJ's ruling still holds in respect of other waste legislation. This means that incineration of electrical appliances or automotive shredder residue will not count towards recovery targets set under the Directives on end-of-life vehicles and waste electrical and electronic equipment.
The European Commission has promised that the issue will be reviewed as part of the ongoing development of the EU thematic strategy on waste prevention and recycling, due by mid-2005.
The case for such measures will now be included in a report on the environmental and internal market implications of the Directive to be produced by the Commission by June 2005. The report will be the prelude to a more detailed review of the Directive.
The text says the Commission will "as appropriate" present proposals to do so, and to "ensure that new packaging is put on the market only if the producer has taken all necessary measures to minimise its environmental impact without compromising the essential functions of the packaging."
The Directive should enter into force in spring 2004 and will need to be transposed into national law by autumn 2005.