Late last year, the European Commission presented a proposal for a new packaging regulation, which brings with it a number of changes. Among them are new labelling requirements for packaging and packaging waste collection containers.
In particular, the labelling changes relate to the introduction of an obligation to include a label on the packaging containing information on its material composition in order to facilitate consumer sorting. This obligation will not apply to transport packaging. At the same time, the same labels must be placed on packaging waste containers so that the consumer can easily determine the appropriate method of disposal. By 1 January 2028, all containers for the separate collection of packaging waste shall be visibly, legibly and indelibly marked.
The harmonized labelling shall also be designed to provide information on the recycled content of the plastic packaging. Reusable packaging shall be marked with a QR code or other type of digital data carrier that also provides access to other relevant information facilitating the reuse of packaging, such as the availability of the reuse system and collection points. This marking should also facilitate the traceability of packaging and the calculation of routes and circuits. Reusable packaging must be properly labelled and distinguished from disposable consumer packaging at the point of sale.
Packaging belonging to the deposit and return system must contain information on the material composition as well as a uniform marking of the deposit packaging.
The labelling of the packaging should indicate whether it is:
- reusable packaging
- packaging belonging to a deposit and return system
- packaging with recycled content
- packaging containing bio-based plastics
All markings and the QR code or other type of digital media must be visibly, legibly and indelibly affixed, printed or engraved on the packaging. If the packaging is smaller in size or the nature of the packaging does not allow for proper placement of the labels, the labels may be placed on the group packaging.
Labels on packaging shall be uniform and shall not display markings, signs, inscriptions or other symbols that are likely to mislead or confuse the end consumer as to the sustainability requirements of the packaging, other characteristics of the packaging or the options for the management of packaging waste.
The Commission shall, by means of implementing acts after the entry into force of the Regulation, establish harmonized labelling requirements and packaging formats for waste receptacles, as well as a methodology for identifying the material composition of packaging through digital marking technologies.
A DEPOSIT AND RETURN SYSTEM FOR PLASTIC BOTTLES AND CANS WILL BE COMPULSORY FOR ALL MEMBER STATES
By 1 January 2029, the draft Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation will require all Member States to take the necessary measures to ensure the establishment of deposit and return systems for single-use plastic bottles and metal beverage containers up to 3 litres.
A Member State may only be exempted from the obligation to set up a deposit and return system if the country demonstrates that it can achieve a sorted collection rate of 90% of the packaging placed on the market in the calendar years 2026 and 2027 by other means, i.e. through a conventional MRV system. If the sorted collection rate falls below 90% of the weight of packaging placed on the market for 3 consecutive years, the Commission will notify the country concerned that the derogation will no longer apply and the Member State will have to set up a deposit and return system.
The exact wording of the requirements for deposit and return systems is set out in Annex X of the proposal for a regulation.
The proposal is currently in the legislative process, where it must be examined by the European Parliament and the Council of the EU.
A new Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation is expected to be adopted by 2024.
The proposal for a regulation on Packaging and Packaging waste can be found here.
Decree No. 259/2023 Coll., which amends Decree No. 371/2015 Coll. of the Ministry of Environment of the Slovak Republic, implementing certain provisions of the Waste Act, as amended, is effective as of 1 July 2023. More information can be found here.