Paul Clarke looks at forthcoming amendments to the 1994 Packaging Waste Directive and Directive 2000/53/EC on end-of-life vehicles.

EU legislates on flower pots and dangerous substances

In the current arguments about repatriating powers from Brussels and keeping national jurisdiction over matters best dealt with by individual Member States, the European Commission has always had a strong hand to play when it comes to matters affecting the environment. Pollution in its various forms tends to be no respecter of national frontiers, and some supposedly green regulations can be restrictions of trade in disguise, if the same rules are not applied across the internal market.

Two directives coming into force later this year illustrate this second point and confirm that the EU seems as determined as ever to maintain its firm hold on legislation concerning environmental protection.

What constitutes packaging?

The first development concerns an amendment to the 1994 Packaging Waste Directive (94/62/EC), which defined "packaging" by setting out a number of criteria. The items listed in its Annex I are illustrative examples of the application of those criteria.

Published in the EU's Official Journal on 8 February 2013, Directive 2013/2/EU amends the 1994 directive so that the Commission can use additional cases to clarify where the border lies between what is packaging and what is not. Annex I to Directive 94/62/EC is accordingly replaced by the text set out in the Annex to this new directive. Member States must comply with its provisions by 30 September 2013 at the latest.

Among the items listed as packaging in the new Annex are:

  • sweet boxes

  • film overwrap around a CD case

  • doilies sold with a cake

  • clothes hangers (sold with a clothing item)

  • matchboxes

  • 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.

Non-packaging items include:

  • tool boxes

  • tea bags

  • wax layers around cheese

  • clothes hangers (sold separately)

  • cartridges for printers

  • CD, DVD and video cases (sold together with a CD, DVD or video inside)

  • flower pots intended to stay with the plant throughout its life.

Lead in solders

Article 4(2)(a) of Directive 2000/53/EC on end-of-life vehicles (the ELV Directive) prohibits the use of four heavy metals (lead, mercury, cadmium and hexavalent chromium) in materials and components of vehicles put on the market in the EU after 1 July 2003. Annex II to the ELV Directive lists vehicle materials and components exempted from that prohibition. Only vehicles put on the market before the expiry date of a given exemption, and spare parts for those vehicles, may contain these dangerous substances in the materials and components listed in Annex II to the directive.

Item 8(i) of Annex II provides for an exemption for lead in solders in electrical glazing applications on glass except for soldering in laminated glazing. That exemption expired on 1 January 2013. It was allowed because there was, at the time of the directive's adoption, no suitable alternative to the use of lead. A key provision of the ELV Directive requires that Annex II should be regularly updated so as to take into account scientific and technical progress. The latest such assessment has demonstrated that the use of lead in this instance remains unavoidable, as viable substitutes are still not available. Annex II to the directive is accordingly replaced by the text set out in the Annex to Directive 2013/28/EU, published in the EU's Official Journal on 22 May 2013. This extends the original exemption to 1 January 2016. Member States must comply with these requirements within three months of the date of publication, ie by 22 August 2013 at the latest.

Last reviewed 5 July 2013