The call for proposals is open to all legal persons, but priority will be given to small and medium-sized enterprises. European businesses have until 5 September to submit proposals for bringing novel environmental solutions to the market in the following 5 areas:
sustainable building products
the food and drink sector.
About 45 projects could be supported with this year’s funding. Nearly fifty projects from last year’s call are set to launch and over 185 projects are already underway, including optimising technology to re-use old bricks in the construction industry; producing leather shoes that are free from harmful chemicals; using CO2 to harness a natural source of Omega-3; and a new technique for carpet manufacturing.
A European Eco-Innovation Info Day with detailed information about priorities and tips on how to apply for funding will take place on 27 May in the Charlemagne Building, in Brussels, Belgium.
The Basel Convention prohibits the export of WEEE from developed to developing countries. However, the effectiveness of the ban is compromised by WEEE exports together with, or declared as, used EEE. Since 2009, the Basel Convention has been working on technical guidelines on transboundary movements of e-waste, in particular regarding the distinction between waste and non-waste.
In December 2012, the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) – an association of electronics manufacturers including Dell, HP, Sony, Samsung, LG and Apple – requested that used or non-functioning equipment be exempt from the ban if it is ‘sent for refurbishment or repair under a valid contract with the intention of reuse to a) the producer or a third party facility acting on his behalf or b) a third party facility as long as such export does not involve exports from Annex VII countries (i.e. OECD and EU) to non-Annex VII countries.’
The proposal was opposed by among others the Basel Action Network (BAN, intervention) and several, mainly developing, countries fearing that it would ‘further open the floodgates’ of e-waste entering or arising in developing countries as
‘substantial amounts of hazardous waste are generated in repair operations’ (bad batteries, mercury lamps, CRTs, and circuit board) for which adequate treatment facilities are not available in the country; and
the new criteria would be exploited by waste brokers.
BAN also notes that it may not be well understood that e-waste exports would have ‘devastating impacts on legitimate recyclers … in developed countries’ such as e-Stewards and most R2 recyclers that have invested heavily in real recycling operations.
Without an agreement to the at times emotionally charged debate, COP11 decided (UNEP/CHW.11/CRP.22) i.a. to
invite parties to serve as the lead country for the development of the guidelines and inform the Secretariat of their willingness to do so by 31 July 2013;
invite submission of examples of when used equipment should normally be considered waste (or not) by 15 September 2013;
request the lead country to prepare draft revised technical guidelines for publication by 30 November 2013; and
invite comments on the draft revised technical guidelines by 28 February 2014.
The Commission has therefore launched an initiative which establishes a Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) and an Organisation Environmental Footprint (OEF) to measure environmental performance throughout the lifecycle. It has announced a three-year testing period to develop product- and sector-specific rules through a multi-stakeholder process – a call for volunteers will be published on the Commission’s Single Market for Green Productsweb pages during April, with a view to starting the first wave of pilots in September.
A new Commission Recommendation urges member states, companies, private organisations and the financial community to use the methods laid down in a lengthy Annex to the Recommendation. The methodology was developed by the Commission’s Joint Research Centre, based on existing methods which have been extensively tested and used. The Annex to the Recommendation provides guidance on how to calculate a PEF, and how to develop product category-specific methodological requirements for use in Product Environmental Footprint Category Rules.
Commission Communication Smart regulation - Responding to the needs of small and medium - sized enterprises says that there will be no changes to the enacting terms of REACH, but there are specific recommendations to reduce the impact of the REACH Regulation on SMEs. It adds that a proposal to relate the levels of fees to be paid to the European Chemicals Agency to the size of the company is being considered.
As regards waste, the Communication says only that the Commission is starting a comprehensive review of EU waste policy and legislation this year. It will cover
key targets in the Waste Framework Directive, the Landfill Directive and the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive;
an ex-post evaluation ("fitness check") of the waste stream Directives (including packaging, WEEE, batteries and end-of-life vehicles); and
an assessment of how the problem of plastic waste can be better tackled.
The Technical Adaptation Committee on the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (the ‘Article 21 Committee’) has held a number of inconclusive discussions about ‘borderline items’ since 2006. In December 2011 it considered but was unable to agree on a proposal for a Commission Directive which would have amended Annex I to the Directive (the definitions) through the comitology (delegated powers) procedure.
The draft was not agreed by the Committee because of disagreement over the status of release paper, and in March 2012 it was submitted to the Council to decide. ‘Release paper of self-adhesive labels’ was omitted from the March 2012 text. The Council did not take a vote because it was clear that there would not be a qualified majority in favour (there was opposition to defining rolls, tubes and cores, coat hangers and matchboxes and gas cylinders as packaging). The Commission therefore resubmitted the proposal as a Commission Directive in July 2012. The European Parliament had no objections, and the Directive was finally published in the Official Journal on 8 February.
The rules do not permit the Commission to change anything in the text without resubmitting it to the European Parliament, so 30 September 2013, the date in the Commission’s 28 March 2012 proposal for a Council Directive, remains the deadline for member states to bring the Directive into force on their national territories.
The following have been added to the illustrative list of items to be regarded as packaging:
mailing pouches for catalogues and magazines (with a magazine inside);
cake doilies sold with a cake;
rolls, tubes and cylinders around which flexible material (e.g. plastic film, aluminium, paper) is wound, except rolls, tubes and cylinders intended as parts of production machinery and not used to present a product as a sales unit;
flower pots intended to be used only for the selling and transporting of plants and not intended to stay with the plant throughout its life time;
glass bottles for injection solutions;
CD spindles (sold with CDs, not intended to be used as storage);
clothes hangers (sold with an item of clothing);
sterile barrier systems (pouches, trays and materials necessary to preserve the sterility of the product);
beverage system capsules (e.g. coffee, cocoa, milk) which are left empty after use;
refillable steel cylinders used for various kinds of gas, excluding fire extinguishers.
Mechanical querns (integrated into a non-refillable container and filled with a product (e.g. a pepper mill filled with pepper) would be considered part of the packaging.
Also to be considered packaging, if designed and intended to be filled at the point of sale, is plastic film around cleaned clothes in laundries.
Items not to be considered packaging are
clothes hangers (sold separately);
beverage system coffee capsules, coffee foil pouches, and filter paper coffee pods disposed of together with the used coffee product;
CD, DVD and video cases (sold together with a CD, DVD or video inside);
CD spindles (sold empty, intended to be used for storage);
soluble bags for detergents;
grave side lights (containers for candles);
mechanical quern integrated into a refillable container (e.g. a refillable pepper mill);