State must not impose retroactive reporting obligations on companies
The Chamber opposes the plan of the Ministry of Climate Affairs to impose an obligation on enterprises to submit information on single-use plastic food packaging and drinking cups to the packaging register retroactively, i.e. for 2023. In addition, we proposed that the accounting of food packaging and drinking cups be carried out on a weight basis and not on the basis of a piece, as provided for in the draft of the Ministry.
The Ministry of Climate Affairs has prepared a draft amendment to the statutes of the packaging register, which includes, among other things, an important amendment for companies that are placing single-use plastic food packaging and drinking cups on the market for the first time in Estonia.
According to the Packaging Act, single-use plastic food packaging is a container with or without a lid, from which ready-to-eat food is provided on-site or for takeaway, usually consumed from the same container without additional cooking, cooking or heating. For example, such food packaging includes fast food packaging, sandwich, wrap or salad boxes, or packaging containing fresh or processed food that does not require further preparation, such as fruits, vegetables or desserts.
Ministry's plan: data must be submitted retroactively, i.e. for 2023
According to the draft act, for the first time enterprises must submit to the packaging register data on single-use plastic food packaging and drinking cups placed on the market for the in Estonia by 31 March 2024, but the data must be for 2023. This means that companies have to provide these data retroactively.
Although some individual companies have indicated that they will also be able to submit this data to the packaging register retroactively, i.e. for 2023, many are concerned about this requirement. At the beginning of 2023 and not even half a year ago, companies were not aware that they would have to submit these data to the state. Even if companies could expect such an obligation to come soon, until now they have no confidence as to whether data on packaging and cups should be kept on a piece or weight basis.
Companies do not have reliable data
For the above reasons, companies have not been able to collect accurate data on food packaging and beverage cups since the beginning of 2023, and retroactively it is difficult to determine how many of these packaging and cups have been placed on the market in 2023. Companies keep records of packaging today, but they cannot easily retroactively distinguish between what is single-use plastic food packaging and drinking cups and what other packaging has been.
If the Ministry of Climate Affairs wants to introduce the obligation to submit data retroactively in order to transpose the relevant European Union directive as soon as possible, then the question arises as to why the Ministry did not prepare the corresponding draft earlier so that the amendments would have entered into force, for example, from the beginning of 2023. Since the Ministry of Climate Affairs has been late in developing the draft act, this cannot be a justification for imposing a retroactive reporting obligation on companies.
The Chamber proposed to the Ministry that the draft amendments to the statutes of the packaging register be amended in such a way that the companies must submit these data for the first time in 2024 and the deadline for submission of the data would be 31 March 2025.
Accounting should be carried out on the basis of weight, not on the basis of piece
The Ministry of Climate Affairs has proposed that companies could keep records of single-use plastic food packaging and drinking cups on a piece basis rather than on a weight basis.
The Chamber informed the Ministry that it preferred a weight-based approach for several reasons. First of all, companies today keep records of packaging by weight, not by piece. Therefore, it is logical to continue with the established practice of today. Secondly, a weight-based approach will help companies better assess whether and how well they meet the requirement under the Packaging Act to achieve a measurable reduction in single-use plastic food packaging and drinking cups by 2026.
According to the Bill, the planned amendments to the statutes of the packaging register will enter into force on 1 January 2024. You can read more about the planned changes here.