Eamonn Bates Europe’s Response to an article by Corporate Europe Observatory of 28 March 2018

The facts

Corporate Europe Observatory, an anti-business NGO, recently published a long, misleading article suggesting that Eamonn Bates Europe and some of its clients are operating a so-called “front” organisation to lobby against litter prevention. This is entirely untrue. Eamonn Bates Europe does not operate dishonestly. It has never been engaged to be dishonest. It does not work for dishonest or "half-honest" clients.

The article repeats an old "scenario" developed in 2016 by a Flemish/Dutch NGO as part of its lobbying campaigns in support of the introduction of deposit return schemes for beverage containers in Belgium and the Netherlands. Indeed, the article repeatedly puts forward the case for deposit return schemes. Neither Eamonn Bates Europe nor its clients has a position on the use of deposit return schemes in those countries or anywhere else in the EU.

The article, while essentially factual, contains significant omissions, presents partial information in places, draws conclusions that do not always flow from the preceding information presented and contains some plainly false statements. It paints an elaborate conspiracy theory with Eamonn Bates at the centre of it. Corporate Europe Observatory’s conspiracy theory is exactly that, a theory. We regret the appearance of this misleading information based on conjecture which we refute.

Eamonn Bates Europe is and always has been transparent about who it works for. It was a founder of the European Public Affairs Consultancies Association and abides by its code of conduct. It makes regular returns to and respects the rules of the Joint Transparency Register.

Background

Eamonn Bates Europe provides association management and EU public affairs services to Pack2Go Europe (Europe's food & beverage service packaging association), to the European Litter Prevention Association, which operates as the Clean Europe Network (an association of litter prevention NGOs, charities and not-for-profit organisations), and to Serving Europe (the branded food & beverage service chains association). All of these groups support litter prevention. None of them lobby against deposit return schemes.

The Clean Europe Network focuses on exchange of experience and expertise about litter and the prevention of littering and develops common methodologies where there is added value in a European approach. It shares its expertise with anyone who is interested. It is not a lobbying organisation. It has placed a statement about the misleading article on its website (www.cleaneuropenetwork.eu).

That said, the Network openly supports the position of the EU institutions (see the revised EU Waste Directive due for final adoption in April 2018) that the litter challenge is best tackled through a shared responsibility approach, including mandatory extended producer responsibility for litter prevention. In its own work, the Network believes in cooperating with all relevant stakeholders to address the litter challenge in practical ways. To suggest that it is secretly trying to delay effective litter prevention and oppose extended producer responsibility for litter prevention is unfounded.

Pack2Go Europe is focused today on integrating food & beverage service packaging into the circular economy in Europe. It is aiming for more and better collection and recycling of its products, which it cannot achieve alone. Because its products do find their way into the litter stream, it also fully supports greater litter prevention efforts, including extended producer responsibility for litter prevention. It is setting up pilot projects for collection and recycling and litter prevention which it hopes can be scaled up across Europe.

International Paper, a packaging, pulp and paper company, is a client of Eamonn Bates Europe. The rotating chairmanship of Pack2Go Europe fell to International Paper Foodservice Europe in 2016. Meanwhile, International Paper divested its foodservice packaging businesses all around the world.

In 2012, Pack2Go Europe organised a conference to exchange information about litter prevention with litter prevention organisations. It was the first time so many litter prevention groups had met to exchange information and, as a direct result, they decided to set up their own EU association. They did so in 2013 and asked Eamonn Bates Europe to manage its secretariat and organise its activities, which, from the outset, excluded lobbying. Pack2Go Europe has contributed €7,500 annually ever since as an associate (non-voting) member. Eamonn Bates Europe has provided a significant amount of pro bono support to the Clean Europe Network since its inception because it believes strongly in the cause of litter prevention.

The work of Serving Europe has focused primarily on food-related matters until now. While it currently has no formal position on litter prevention, it would be true to say that all members are in favour of sustainable approaches to packaging systems, the reduction of litter and the prevention of littering.

Contrary to what the article implies, Eamonn Bates Europe does not and has never worked for Coca-Cola.

29 March 2018