Expanding portfolio of non-packaging products since July 1st, 2020?

The planned modification of the municipal waste definition (hereinafter referred to as “MW”) since July 1st, 2020, is taken into consideration by our company from the preparatory period of the Waste Act update during the year 2019, in parallel with the impact of this modification to the existing system of Extended Producer Responsibility, as well as to the collection of separated waste components in the municipalities and cities in SR.

As we are not authorized to interpret the acts, we have tried to communicate with the waste department of MoE SR from the beginning of the process. However, the conflict proceedings regarding the definition modification were performed only in the framework of a narrow group of selected bodies, excluding any option of additional consultations.

Therefore we have submitted as early as January 2020 two official requests for guidance on the definition of packaging and non-packaging products that have a direct impact to us and to our clients – producers of packaging and non-packaging products. Thank to this activity we succeeded to join the meeting of the MoE. We have appealed the MoE to attach to their answers (as their replies are not binding) a guideline for all PROs and producers, but also for municipalities and collection companies that are substantially impacted by the respective issues. We all need to proceed equally under an unanimously operating system, regardless the situation in Košice or Bratislava municipality.

Finally, after nearly three months we have received few days ago a response from the MoE to our request regarding the non-packaging products. A product should be considered non-packaging product according to the Waste Act, if it meets all three criteria defined by the act:

a product is not packaging and it is not intended to be used as packaging,

a product is made of the specified materials (defined types of plastic, paper or glass),

the waste from the product will become a component of municipal waste.

In particular, just the third criterion is a key one in the modified definition of municipal waste since July 1st, 2020. Up to now the definition distinguished whether the product is intended for use by the citizens, thus becoming a component of municipal waste, or whether it is intended to be used by entrepreneur subjects for their business activities and it will not become a component of municipal waste. Moreover, the definition of non-packaging product said that the producer is a person who introduces to the market “under the framework of his entrepreneurship” etc. The above two conditions refused many products to be considered non-packaging products, as they were intended either, for entrepreneur subject, or the given person who introduced them into the market does not act as entrepreneur. This situation caused rejection of high volumes of paper from the system - like catalogues, presentation materials, oversized formats, unsold copies, but also promotion materials of political parties, ministries, insurance companies, authorities etc.

According to the new conditions all waste should end up in the MW and difficult definition of the producer is not necessary regarding the latest chain article as before (the one who is able to identify all three characteristics of non-packaging product – and principally whether it will end up in the MW), because it can be done by the first subject in the line. The definition of the producer could be substantially simplified: instead of thousands of small subjects being unaware of their obligations (causing the disappearance of huge amounts), a hundred of bigger companies can be considered, allowing much easier control by the state authorities.

The portfolio of non-packaging products could expand by all mentioned exceptions due to the new definition of MW since July 1st, 2020! Waste from those subjects and institutions should be managed by the PRO, i.e. the producer, pursuant to the proposed new regulation. We have addressed the system adjustment in our request, in order to ensure correct application. The waste department did not responded to most of our queries, and for the application practice they repeated the sentence from the MoE SR guidance issued in the year 2016!

We had also to react to the respective arguments of the MoE SR published on the portal www.odpady-portal.sk on the MW definition modification, because they claim that everything is clear and understandable. We do not understand the resulting situation – why we did not received reply to our questions, why the MoE SR does not publish a guidance allowing the unified approach. Our reaction is available on https://www.odpady-portal.sk/Dokument/105236/ad-komunalne-odpady-zmenia-definiciu-ozv-na-to-maju-byt-pripravene.aspx, with more detailed explanation of the particular issues.

The MW definition, nor the explanatory report do not clarify the procedure for distinguishing “similar character and composition,” what falls under retailing, how the other conditions of calculation of separated waste collection infrastructure developed (collection standards), how to adjust the contractual arrangements between the individual parties, the need of modifications in the general binding guidelines of the municipalities…

This is an overview of reasons why we have asked the ministry to issue a guidance, and to upgrade the respective legislation (implementing rules) – it is not acceptable to perform certain modification without adjustment of related regulations.

You can read the submitted request to the MoE SR HERE, and their response is available HERE.