|Building policies||Automotive policies||Packaging policies|
Aluminium products are safe for consumers to use thanks to the industry’s dedication and high standards of quality, performance and safety.
The European Union requirements in terms of product policies are numerous and in constant development.
Other pieces of legislation address specific aspects of the life-cycle of product, such as waste.
This section highlights the main legislative areas of relevance to the aluminium industry and to the work of the EAA.
In the past 20 years, the need to move towards safer and more sustainable patterns of consumption and production became more and more pressing within the international community.
While good practices are promoted internationally as part of the United Nations Sustainable Consumption and Production policies, the European Commission has since then started developing an integrated approach to promote a sustainable industrial policy.
Sustainable consumption and production (SCP) policies aim to improving the overall environmental performance of products throughout their life-cycle, to boost the demand for better products and production technologies and to help consumers in making informed choices.
Product regulation has played an important role in making the project of a European single market a reality and today a whole range of policies both at EU and national level are in place to increase resource efficiency, foster the development of eco-friendly products and raise consumer awareness.
The work of the EU authorities focuses on improving energy and environmental performance of products and fostering their uptake by consumers.
This approach was developed by setting targets throughout the internal market, ensuring that products are improved through investments and incentives, and providing more detailed information to consumers through a homogeneous labelling framework.
The Construction Products Regulation (CPR) was adopted on March 9th 2011 by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union, repealing the previous Construction Product Directive (CPD). The CPR is a common language to declare performance based on technical specifications harmonised throughout the EU, and facilitating a single European market for construction products through CE marking. The “cascading principle” allowing SME’s to make use of test reports from their suppliers has been introduced by the aluminium industry at the time of the CPD and has now become a reality in the CPR.
As buildings are responsible for 40% of energy consumption and 36% of EU CO2 emissions, the Directive on the energy performance of buildings (EPBD) is considered as a key policy tool to fulfill EU Climate & Energy objectives. A recast of this Directive was adopted in 2010. Under this Directive, Member States must apply minimum requirements for new buildings and major renovations, as well as ensure the certification of their energy performance. The aluminium industry – together with other materials – defended the merits of a holistic approach, whose objective is to optimise total energy performance of buildings at minimal cost.
As part of the Sustainable Consumption and Production action plan (SCP), at the end of 2009 and in mid-2010 respectively, the Ecodesign and the Energy Labelling Directives were extended from energy-using products (EuPs) to energy-related products (ErPs), encompassing construction products. The Ecolabel Regulation has also been recast to facilitate the development of additional European Ecolabels, so far not existing for construction products. The European Commission also developed Green Public Procurement(GPP) criteria for a first set of construction products. While Ecodesign sets minimum environmental requirements to access the EU market, Energy labels give transparency on the energy performance of products and Ecolabels award the best performing products. GPP criteria guide public administrations in their purchasing.
The EAA Building Group is involved in intense activity related to the implementation of the new Construction Products Regulation and the new Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, as well as the implementation of all recently adopted EU legislation under the Sustainable Consumption and Production Action Plan, which are all considering windows as a priority product group.
The EU authorities have developed a number of legislative tools to reduce emissions from new cars and vans sold in the European Union and ensure that the EU meets its greenhouse gas emission targets under the Kyoto Protocol.
In the automotive and commercial road transport sectors, the EAA’s main mission is to promote aluminium as a feasible and effective way of reducing CO2 emissions and increasing road and pedestrian safety.
EAA actively participated in the development of the European Commission’s White Paper on the Future of Transport policy published in March 2011, stressing the importance of lightweighting and the need for more technological neutrality in regulations dealing with CO2 emissions.
As a complement to Regulation (EC) 443/2009, which sets emission performance standards to reduce CO2 emissions from new passenger cars, a political compromise on a similar regulation relating to light commercial vehicles was reached at the end of 2010. The “Vans Regulation”, adopted in May 2011 aims at cutting emissions from vans to an average of 175 grammes of CO2 per kilometre by 2017 – with the reduction phased in from 2014 – and to 147g CO2/km by 2020. These cuts represent reductions of 14% and 28% respectively compared with the 2007 average of 203 g/km.
The European Commission is also developing a test procedure for measuring CO2 emissions from heavy duty vehicles, i.e. trucks and trailers.
The two regulations on light duty vehicles (cars and vans) link CO2 emission targets to vehicle mass, offsetting the benefits of using lightweight materials, while EAA was seeking a more relevant utility parameter, e.g. vehicle footprint. Nevertheless, both pieces of legislation include a revision clause to change utility parameters for calculating emission limits, as well as revision of the average mass of new vehicles, thereby limiting the adverse effects of increased vehicle mass in case it is kept as a utility parameter.
Packaging and Waste Legislation
The European legal framework for packaging products is mainly based on the “Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (94/62/EC)” and on the “Waste Framework Directive” (2006/12/EC). The Packaging Directive has two major objectives: improving the environmental performance of packaging by setting minimum recovery and recycling targets for all EU Member States while at the same time ensuring a proper functioning of the internal market for packaging. The Waste Framework Directive is addressing waste in general and lays down a number of environmental principles including the so-called ‘Waste Management Hierarchy’, which gives priority to prevention, reuse and recycling over incineration and landfill. With this set of measures, the EU is seeking to harmonise national measures concerning the recovery of packaging waste and preventing that individual Member States take measures that might unnecessarily hinder the free movement of packed products.
As a major supplier of packaging material, the aluminium industry is already committed to sustainable packaging management, including source reduction, recycling and energy recovery. The aluminium industry has consistently worked towards the prevention of packaging waste and significantly reduced the amount of aluminium needed for packaging products by optimising their design and improving material technology. Moreover, the aluminium packaging industry is fully committed to recycling and has an impressive track-record of constantly improving recycling figures world-wide for the aluminium beverage can as well as for a wide range of other aluminium packaging products. Innovative techniques are being used to even collect the smallest aluminium particles in the waste stream or to ensure that at least the high energy content of used aluminium packaging is being used. In addition to its own remelting units, aluminium companies co-operate with public and private collection and sorting systems which have developed and implemented successful schemes and processes for the recovery and recycling of used aluminium packaging.
Here is a very interesting speech delivered by Mr Janez Potočnik, European Commissioner for the Environment, on the occasion of a debate hosted by Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy, Member of the European Parliament: Metal’s Contribution to a Resource Efficient Europe; and organised by Metal Packaging Europe (MPE) on the 24th of January 2012 in the Musée des Sciences Naturelles, Brussels, Belgium.