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In 1993, the Swedish Parliament adopted the Ecocycle Bill (1992/93:180), which included policy on producer responsibility.
A mandate to regulate producer responsibility was handed down to the Swedish Government. Producer responsibility is regulated in Chapter 15 of the Swedish Environmental Code (SFS 1998:808).
In 1994, the government introduced producer responsibility for packaging and newspapers by adopting the Ordinance on Producer Responsibility for Waste Paper (SFS 1994:1205, now 2014:1074) and the Ordinance on Producer Responsibility for Packaging (SFS 1994:1235, now 2014:1073).
These regulations meant that all companies that manufacture, import or sell packaging, packaged items or newspapers are also responsible for their collection and recycling.
Packaging and newspapers were the first product groups to be covered by producer responsibility. Not because they represent the most serious environmental problem, but because they are relatively easy to manage.
If they are separated from household waste, waste is reduced and recycling rates will significantly increase. Tires, vehicles, batteries, electrical and electronic products (including light bulbs), pharmaceuticals and some radioactive products are also covered by producer responsibility now, as well as orphan radiation sources handled as radioactive waste.
Producer responsibility has been studied and reviewed on numerous occasions.
In 2000, the Swedish Government commissioned a review of producer responsibility for all types of material, headed by Member of Parliament Sinikka Bohlin.
In 2005, the Government assigned the Swedish EPA to evaluate producer responsibility for packaging and waste paper. In December 2006, the EPA presented its report. The evaluation concluded that producer responsibility is relatively effective, and that it should be maintained in its present form. In 2007, the Government commissioned the EPA to conduct a new inquiry. This time, to evaluate the conditions for material stream collections, instead of packaging. A first report was presented in October 2007, the second in February 2009.
With the introduction of the new Waste Management Ordinance on August 9, 2011, the Government decided to amend several regulations. This mainly involved cross-referencing to the new Ordinance, and adapting the text to match the amended provisions of the Waste Management Ordinance.
On June 30, 2011, the Government decided to appoint Lars Ekecrantz as Head of its Waste Management Inquiry. The inquiry would mainly focus on a potential solution for the collection and management of household waste.
Commercial waste, including producer responsibility for packaging and waste paper, would also be revised. The inquiry submitted its report for comments at the end of summer in 2012. Many opinions were submitted to the Swedish Ministry of the Environment, mainly in reference to the unsubstantiated nature of the proposals and the lack of an impact assessment, which led to no decisions being made on the basis of the inquiry.
A Government-appointed working group continued to evaluate the matter during the first half of 2014, and new ordinances for packaging and newspapers were presented and passed on August 28. The ordinances were introduced on November 1, 2014.
In a memorandum dated June 24, 2015, the Government commissioned the Ministry of the Environment and Energy to recommend how responsibility for the physical collection of packaging and waste paper from households could be changed. Mari Torpe was appointed Head of Inquiry and, together with her working group, she submitted her report to the Ministry on March 31, 2016.
The Ministry has published the report, but emphasizes that the findings are not complete due to lack of background material, such as constitutional amendments. The Ministry therefore regards the report as working material for future reference. We are now awaiting the Ministry’s schedule for further action.