A pan-European trade body for the packaging sector has complained to the European Union Ombudsman about the way the European Commission has prepared its draft plastics strategy for a proposed law on single use plastics.
And, the trade body – Pack2Go – has also hit out at the involvement of UK consultant Eunomia which was involved in compiling the draft strategy. Members include Huhtamaki and Smith Anderson.
The association says that the proposal for a Directive on single use plastic items (released on 28 May 2018) has been compiled unreasonably quickly, has conflicts of interest, follows a “biased consultation process” and that there has been a failure to carry out proper impact assessment of proposed measures.
The trade body considers that single-use packaging does have a place in society, particularly in terms of food products. The European Commission stands accused of having an “impact assessment which appears to have been tailored to fit the policy decisions that had already been taken, notably by omitting to address some vital elements that might have mitigated some of the proposed measures.”
Pack2Go says that consequently, the draft directive proposes “to ban some products and restrict access to a wide range of food & beverage service packaging and related items (made both from plastics and combinations of plastics with other materials) that are vital to guarantee food hygiene, to safeguard public health and to provide consumer safety for food and drinks consumed out of home and on-the-go.”
It reasons that the impact assessment includes no consideration of the impact of the proposal on these issues which are of vital concern to consumers, public health professionals and the food service industry. And, the association warns that “the risks to human health posed by cross contamination within the food chain are well-known and long-established. It is of considerable concern and a grave omission that the Commission failed to subject the proposal to a detailed impact assessment for the hygiene, health and safety risks to which it may unintentionally subject EU consumers.”
Pack2Go Europe highlights that it feels its complaint is “a matter of public interest because of the risks to food hygiene, public health and consumer safety that are likely if this legislation is adopted as it is proposed” and for other reasons, including job losses and the impact on European companies.
In its submission to the EU Ombudsman, Pack2Go also queries the involvement of Eunomia which it describes as a “British environmental consulting firm, as the Commission’s objective advisors in the consultation and policy development process around the EU Plastics Strategy.”
The association claims that the appointment was made because the consultancy had “campaigned in its own right” for measures against single use packaging.
“The dramatic step of complaining to the Ombudsman reflects the huge degree of frustration across the packaging value chain about the cavalier way the Commission has abandoned its tradition of developing policy on balanced, evidence-based analysis in favour of political expediency and media headlines,” says Mike Turner, managing director of Graphic Packaging International Foodservice Europe, and president of Pack2Go Europe.
A spokesperson for Eunomia said: “We are confident there was no conflict of interest and that we’ve carried out work to the proper standards.”
The consultancy is thought to consider that based on evidence that deposit schemes are generally a good thing, but badly designed ones can be ineffective.