Fabian Demicoli

Why ECO Contribution should go? Otherwise The WEEE Directive will remain on the shelf!

 Eco
Contribution introduced in September 2004 should have been a stepping stone
towards instigating the extended producer responsibility. Today it has become
the business community's worst nightmare. It is a shame that at least two
Compliance Schemes are in place and cannot implement the conditions of their
permit in relation to at least one Directive, WEEE, because of Eco
Contribution.

As we have said many times in
the past, the business community should never pay double for a service. In this
case shouldering a responsibility for an environmental obligation should never
require a double payment. Government has since 2004 been receiving funds from
many companies and in the meantime expecting these companies to oblige to Legal
Notice 63 of 2007. It is just not acceptable under any circumstance whatsoever.

The former administration did
its very best to make sure it kept raking in funds with the blatant excuse that
Compliance Schemes operating other waste streams need to learn how to walk
before they start running. Absolutely absurd. The only real reason was that
funds were never hypothecated for the environment. They were used for any thing
else but that, and that is the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

We are informed that a
revision of the Eco Contribution is currently in vigore and will soon be
finalised. We hope it will be finished before the Budget comes to Parliament.
We hope the revision just says that Eco Contribution legislation will be
superseded once and for all by EU Directives, actually implemented and not just
transposed. The implementation of the WEEE Directive in Malta is well over six years
overdue, taking also a derogation into consideration. Those who were
responsible for this debacle should respond to the Maltese Community in
general. They have failed in implementing what has been implemented across all
other Member States ages ago..  They
should be ashamed of themselves and should shoulder the political responsibility.

Now that Malta's EU
Commissioner will be responsible for Environment and Fisheries we need to be
stalwarts with respect to the Environment. We need to be proactive not
followers or even worse, do nothing at all.. Following was the past, being
proactive is the future. We need to be able to get our act together today
before tomorrow unless we prefer facing infringements from the European
Commission.

One issue is a certainty, the
business community will never fiscally shoulder any infringement penalty for
this Directive. Now is the time to take the bull by the horns. There is still a
lot of work to be done to implement WEEE. We need to start, we need to finish,
we need to get the ball rolling.

It is after all a part of the
National Waste Management Plan approved by Cabinet earlier this year. A
European Directive is a European Directive. We either play ball or bear the
consequences. This time around the Business Community is no walk over. We will
not shoulder infringements. We cannot also take on half measures. In the
beehive someone recently came up with the
absurd idea that those items currently falling under the WEEE Directive but not
subject to Eco Contribution will now have Eco Contribution imposed thus meaning
Eco Contribution will now be spread over hundreds or thousands of items that
are not currently liable to Eco Contribution with the lame excuse that the
current products falling under the current legislation Schedule would be
decreased as the new items introduced would take a  part 
burden thus making sure that across the Board many would now fall within
the parameters of Eco Contribution.

This is not
acceptable. The Business
Community will not accept such a decision. The only acceptable decision is the
right one, abolish Eco Contribution and place the Maltese Business Community on
line with other EU counterparts in other EU Member states, implement the WEEE
Directive as revised and according to the Legal Notice issued earlier this
year. It is already unfair that in respect to the Packaging Waste Directive
that because one is exempt from Eco Tax a producer has higher benchmarks to
reach then EU producers in the same sector. In time this will also need to
change. We are, yes as a Business community, albeit smaller in size in all
proportions, so obliging Maltese Producers to reach a 70% overall collection
rate according to LN 84 of 2010 is already ridiculous, the next thorn would be
extending Eco Contribution instead of abolishing it once and for all!

 

The WEE
Directive LN 204 of 2014

The Business Community will still
find a hard task coming to terms with this piece of legislation which is by far
extremely onerous. But the Business Community has the guts to call a spade a
spade and wake up to the challenges. What we cannot accept is a double
challenge or a double payment for one service.

God forbids if one fine day the EU
had to place fines on Malta for not implementing the WEEE Directive to date!
What next, would Government take on the Business Community to pay the fine or
would they have the real guts to say that the Business Community has paid Eco
Contribution and so they need not pay again.

Decisions need to be taken now before
the budget plunge. Failure to take the bull by the horns now would only place
our EU Commissioner under duress from
Day One.

As always there is a light at the end
of the tunnel, we just wonder how long it takes a Government to see the light!
We have to however state that the past administration  has lived in darkness over this issue! A
total shambles, excuse after excuse as to why Eco Contribution was always left
the way it is! But enough time has passed now and the Government of the day
cannot continue to point fingers at the past. We are living today and we need
to wake up to stark realities.

One budget gone by during this
administration is already one too many. Coming budget needs to have action on
this issue and not small talk.

Article by
Joe Attard CEO of Green MT

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