Environmental labelling for packaging: mandatory requirement in Italy

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As of 26 September 2020, the environmental labelling for packaging is a mandatory requirements for products intended for the final consumers.

This further fulfilment is included in a wider European context aiming for “green” via the principles of circular economy, based on which each product – at the end of its life cycle – can be recycled (for instance, becoming a second starting material) or used for energy production.

Legislative Decree 3 September 2020, no. 116 implements the two European directives on waste and on packaging and packaging waste, and has the primary goal of indicating to final consumers the appropriate disposal of each packaging.

All packaging available to consumers on the national territory must be appropriately labelled to facilitate their disposal, reuse, recovery and recycle, providing clear information to consumers on the appropriate destination of the packaging.

The responsibility of the environmental labelling is of all operators involved in the production, distribution and importation of packaging and consumption products.
The national packaging private consortium CONAI and the Italian Packaging Institute cooperated to draft a guideline on environmental labelling for the companies of the sector to guide them in the appropriate application of the decree.

The decree has been in force for some months now but there are still some doubts (period for the stock disposal of products already on the Italian market, possible waivers for some product categories, definition of consumer…)

More clarifications are expected from the competent authorities: the Ministry for the Environment and Territory and Sea Protection. In any case, all operators should make an effort and cooperate to implement the new regulations.

Every packaging on the market and intended for consumers must report the type of material it is made of, and the indication on the type of disposal (e.g. plastic, paper, etc.).
Packaging materials should be coded alphanumerically in compliance with the European regulations.

For the addition of other information in the environmental labelling, companies can also use technology (such as barcode reading associated to more detailed information on the recycling of a certain product and on the appropriate disposal based on the relevant Italian municipality).

There is no univocal method to represent the environmental labelling of a packaging: it is only essential that information is clear and readable.
Consumers are therefore made part of a new way to look at economy to protect the environment and the people living in it. The task of the companies is also to facilitate the process of waste collection.

Written by: Giorgia Martini