The derogation – official blind eye to the rules – from the European Commission on recycling crates and pallets has been continued. Older crates and pallets may contain higher levels of heavy metals than would be permitted in Europe’s plastics recycling regulations (Directive 94/62/EC on packaging and packaging waste). But because mechanical recycling is the most sustainable means of disposing of old crates and pallets, and to prevent them otherwise going to landfill or incineration, the EC has allowed them to be recycled back in a closed loop which effectively keeps the heavy metals encapsulated in products where they cannot do any harm.
The derogation, agreed in February 1999, expired after 10 years and the present extension will be reviewed after five years alongside the progress made in phasing out heavy metals in crates and pallets. To be able to recycle crates and pallets containing heavy metals manufacturers are forbidden from adding further heavy metals during recycling, and must mark pallets and crates moulded from recyclate in a permanent way. They are required to keep records showing how they are conforming to these regulations.