The lack of regulatory harmonization slows down sustainability in the mass consumer sector


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Consumer goods companies face an avalanche of regulation as most have long begun implementing improvements in sustainability and health, at the same time that consumers began to value caring for the planet. Added to the regulatory avalanche is the absence of harmonization and market unity in Spain, a unique phenomenon that reduces the competitiveness of companies in our country.

The
glasgow climate summit
A couple of weeks ago, it sealed the countries’ commitment to design more ambitious climate policies. In our continent, the European Green Pact whose main objectives are the decarbonization of the economy in 2050 and the transition towards a circular economy and national legislation regulations of the autonomous communities are joined which, according to the sector’s regret through its AECOC association, “have been drawn up from the ignorance of the affected productive sectors, so they have a great impact on companies and make compliance difficult.”

Regulatory pressure in Spain involves the generation of 12,000 annual standards. Only in terms of environmental sustainability, in addition to European legislation, In Spain four laws are active or will be applied at the beginning of next year, to which are added ten more developed by autonomous communities. The Climate Change and Energy Transition law was published in the BOE in May this year, while the Loss Prevention and Food Waste Law will end the consultation period on December 1 after its government approval in October.

But there are two more laws that are expected to go into effect early next year: that of Waste and Contaminated Soils and the Royal Decree of Containers and Container Waste. In addition to these national laws, regulations specific to the communities of Galicia, Navarra and the Balearic Islands, already in force, have been added, while Catalonia, the Valencian Community, Castilla y León, the Canary Islands, Andalusia, the Community of Madrid, the Basque Country and La Rioja also work. in own legislative projects on sustainability, circular economy and climate change that affect both manufacturers and distributors in the mass consumption sector.

Harmonization

“If we do not go to a harmonized model, companies are forced to oversize not only legal departments, but also production if different things are requested in each autonomous community,” they say from AECOC. The lack of a national vision in compliance with the regulations has the consequence that hinders job creation and the arrival of new projects and even the establishment of new companies, as the sector warns. Mass consumption defends that “setting the path for ourselves if we meet the objectives only adds difficulties.” This is the case of the remarkable progress made by the initiative Lean & Green, for example, in reducing CO2 emissions in supply chains. A report on the 60 leading companies in their sectors that participate in the initiative concludes that before the legislation is applied “we have already achieved notable progress, which shows our total commitment to meeting the objectives.”

Among the collaboration projects that AECOC promotes and coordinates in terms of environmental sustainability, Lean & Green stands out to reduce CO2 emissions throughout the supply chain, and the project ‘Food has no waste‘already supported by more than 700 companies. Both are a good example that the mass consumer sector has long put the batteries to face this transition. Coordinated by the association of consumer goods companies in Spain, Lean & Green is a European initiative to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases in logistics processes. The initiative already has 85 companies committed to the decarbonization of logistics and they are working on an action plan aimed at reducing their CO2 emissions by 20% within five years.

The Lean & Green plan in Spain includes training in efficient driving, introduction of new fuels, route planning or centralization of logistics platforms, among other measures. Companies must report their progress and the results are audited by the EY consultancy. In the same way, the sector has endorsed the prevention and reduction of food waste, and more than 700 companies are already part of the project through voluntary adherence to the campaign ‘Food has no waste’ with which it has been possible to reduce by 1 , 78% to 0.70% the percentage of wasted product over the total sold, and the surpluses in the distribution chains are donated to food banks.

The laws that come

Besides the
Climate Change and Energy Transition Law
, the Law on Waste and Contaminated Soils will be activated imminently, which is in the parliamentary process and is expected to enter into force in the first quarter of 2022. It will affect the food and beverage, fishing gear, filters for tobacco, textiles, furniture and household goods and agricultural plastics because, among others, it will regulate the separate collection of waste, set targets for reducing the impact of certain single-use plastics on the environment and introduce a new green taxation to prevent generation of waste. For example, a special tax of 0.45 euros per kilo of non-recycled plastic contained in non-reusable plastic packaging will be applied., which affects the intra-community manufacture, import or acquisition of this type of packaging. Its entry into force is expected three months after the publication of the Law on Waste and Contaminated Soils in the BOE.

Another rule is the draft Royal Decree on Containers and Container Waste, which is expected to come into force in the second quarter of 2022 and which includes objectives and measures that the sector considers disproportionate, especially in a context marked by the impact of the Covid-19 crisis and the increase in costs of energy, transport, raw materials, etc. The impact of this decree on companies is very high and, if the current text is maintained, AECOC denounces that it would require a radical change in its structures and business models, “which could even put at risk the survival of some companies, especially those of smaller size.”

The business association emphasizes that the aforementioned decree goes beyond the objectives and measures set by the European directives, moving away from the trends in circularity that arose in those regulations and to which companies have already directed financial resources. In addition, the Royal Decree anticipates certain aspects that are currently being debated at the European level, which could distort the free market.

Reuse

It should be noted especially that the standard places a special focus on the reuse and sales format for which the implementation of a deposit, refund and return system (SDDR) will be mandatory and for which really ambitious objectives are set both in the retail environment as in the restoration channel (Horeca).

Likewise, the sale of fresh fruits and vegetables in plastic containers is prohibited, the sale in bulk is encouraged, and packaging reduction targets are set, such as a 50% reduction in the number of bottles for single-use plastic beverages. in 2030.

The standard also sets targets for the use of recycled plastic in packaging and opens the door to the implementation of a deposit, return and return (SDDR) system for plastic bottles and cans in the case of water, juices, soft drinks and beers. The same decree law on packaging expands the obligations of the producer and, consequently, the costs, as well as those of domestic packaging because the material of which it is composed and its recyclability must be indicated and also indicate the container where it must be deposited.

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