By Lynn L. Bergeson
On February 23, 2018, European Union (EU) ambassadors reached provisional agreements on the waste legislative package published by the European Commission in 2015. The four legislative proposals include amendments to the:
- Waste Framework Directive;
- Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive;
- Landfill Directive; and
- End-of-Life Vehicles (ELV)/Batteries/Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directives.
The Waste Framework Directive and the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive both acknowledge that biobased and compostable plastics contribute to more efficient waste management and help reduce the impacts of plastic packaging on the environment. Amendments to the Waste Framework would permit biodegradable and compostable packaging to be collected with biowaste and recycled in industrial composting and anaerobic digestion. Additionally, the legislation differentiates biodegradable compostable plastics from oxo-degradable plastics, which would not be considered biodegradable.
By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.
On February 20, 2018, the European Commission (EC) issued a notice of initiation of an expiry review of antidumping (AD) measures applicable to imports of U.S. bioethanol. The AD duty that has been in place since 2013 was set to expire on February 23, 2018. The European Renewable Ethanol Association (e-PURE) petitioned the EC on behalf of producers representing more than 25 percent of the total European Union (EU) bioethanol production to review the AD measures due to the likely recurrence of injury to the EU industry. E-Pure alleged that the removal of injury was the result of the existence of the AD measures and that an increase of imports at dumped prices from the U.S. would likely lead to a recurrence of injury to the EU industry should the measures be allowed to lapse. Following its determination that sufficient evidence exists to justify an expiry review, the EC will investigate whether the removal of the AD measures will likely lead to a continuation or recurrence of dumping of U.S. bioethanol. The investigation will conclude within 15 months.
By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.
On January 17, 2018, the European Parliament (EP) adopted the revision of the Renewable Energy Directive (REDII), which includes draft measures to raise the share of renewable energy to 35 percent by 2030. Additionally, the lawmakers voted to exclude biofuels produced from palm oil from consideration of European Union (EU) Renewable Energy targets and to cap other crop-based fuels at their current levels. The exclusion of palm oil-derived biofuels would not ban or limit the production of such biofuels in the EU. The EP vote does not represent a final decision, but rather sets the EP position for negotiations with the Council of Ministers and the European Commission (EC).
By Kathleen M. Roberts
On August 25, 2017, the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) announced that the European Commission confirmed the extension of the Red Tractor voluntary scheme for biofuels for an initial three months. Red Tractor is a certification body used to prove that crops meet European Union (EU) sustainability requirements. To receive public support or count towards mandatory national renewable energy targets, biofuels used in the EU must comply with the EU's sustainability criteria. One way for a company to demonstrate compliance is to participate in voluntary schemes recognized by the European Commission.
As with the other voluntary schemes, Red Tractor was approved for a period of five years, which expired on August 1, 2017. On August 24, 2017, NFU called on the Commission to urgently address concerns that Red Tractor-approved crops will no longer be able to enter the European biofuels market. The Commission responded by confirming that the Red Tractor scheme continues to be considered compliant with the EU Renewable Energy Directive (RED) sustainability criteria until November 5, 2017, pending another five-year approval.
By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.
On April 3, 2017, the European Environment Agency (EEA) announced the publication of the report titled “Renewable Energy in Europe 2017: Recent Growth and Knock-On Effects,” which demonstrates that renewables have been a major contributor to the energy transition in Europe. An analysis of the compound annual growth rate demonstrated that the use of biofuels in transport grew fastest between 2005 and 2014 at 18 percent per year. Renewables provided six percent of the energy used for the European Union’s (EU) transportation sector in 2014, with biofuels accounting for nearly 90 percent of renewable energy. According to the report, a plateau in first-generation biofuel capacity and delays in overcoming technical and financial obstacles related to second-generation biofuel technologies resulted in fewer investments in biofuels in 2015, compared to 2005. The report also stated that electricity from solid biomass increased seven percent from 2005 to 2014, but the implementation of sustainability criteria could influence future growth in solid biomass fuel. The full report is available on the EEA website.
On March 14, 2017, European Bioplastics (EUBP) welcomed the outcome of the European Parliament’s plenary vote on the waste legislation proposal in which the Members of Parliament recognized the contributions of bioplastics to the European Union’s (EU) circular economy. EUBP highlighted amendments to the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive that encourage Member States to support the use of biobased packaging and to improve market conditions for such materials and products, and amendments to the Waste Framework Directive that incorporates organic recycling in the definition of recycling, which will result in a separate collection of bio-waste across Europe. According to EUBP, the plenary’s vote strengthens the biobased economy and supports the goal of reducing dependence on fossil resources while demonstrating that re-use and recycling remain a priority in the pursuit of an EU circular economy.