How are secondary and tertiary packaging labeled? Is it up to the producer or whoever places them on the market?

Pursuant to the legislative decree of 3 September 2020, all packaging (primary, secondary and tertiary) released for consumption in Italy is subject to the obligation of environmental labeling.

Packaging intended for B2B must obligatorily re-code the composition materials in accordance with Decision 129/97 / EC. All other information is voluntarily applicable.

In light of the aforementioned standard, it is at least certain that the “producers” must identify the alpha-numeric coding provided for by Decision 97/129 / EC, and are defined by Legislative Decree 152/2006, as “suppliers of packaging materials, manufacturers , processors and importers of empty packaging and packaging materials ”.

Packaging producers are the subjects obliged to ensure that information about the composition of the packaging is conveyed along the entire supply chain: they are in fact the subjects who know exactly the composition of the packaging.

It is essential, in order to guarantee the final definition of the composition of a finished packaging, that each producer of articles that can be classified as finished or semi-finished packaging, transfers as complete information as possible about their composition to subsequent subjects in the supply chain.

However, it must be considered that the most significant part of the packaging is placed on the market, and in particular delivered to the final consumer, through prepackaged products. It is well known that the labelling of these sales units is often decided and defined by the user of the packaging, who chooses the contents and form, and who approves the layout to be printed and/or reproduced on the packaging.

It is therefore inevitable that the affixing of environmental labeling becomes a sharing activity between the supplier and user of the packaging, that operators may deem it necessary to regulate and formalize through agreements between the various parties involved.

It is also noted that, with regard to sanctions, Article 261 paragraph 3 reads verbatim: “ to anyone who places non-qualifying packaging on the internal market “Required for their labeling,” a pecuniary administrative sanction from 5,200 to 40,000 euros is applied “.

The rule therefore frames, among the subjects potentially subject to sanctions (“anyone“), any sector operator who places such packaging on the market. These operators could include the following categories:

– suppliers of packaging materials, manufacturers, converters and importers of empty packaging and packaging materials;

– traders, distributors, fillers, users of packaging and importers of full packaging.

Therefore, the packaging manufacturer is required to identify the contents of the environmental labeling of the packaging, in particular with reference to the alpha-numeric coding of Decision 129/97 which indicates the composition material, and is in any case required to ensure that such information is made available in the manner agreed with the customer (s). .

The physical affixing of the labeling on the packaging, on the basis of what is compulsorily made available by the producer / s, is a shared responsibility, which can be regulated through agreed commercial and contractual agreements, through which the point of the supply chain where one of the actors involved takes on this burden.

These considerations become even more relevant for those cases in which there are obvious physical or technological limitations that make it difficult, if not impossible, to physically affix the environmental labeling directly on the packaging. In these cases (with specific reference to the cases set out in the clarification note issued by the Ministry for Ecological Transition on May 17, 2021), if the mandatory information communication system is done through external media such as digital channels, websites, accompanying documents to packaging or external labels, it becomes even more important to formalize, through an agreement, the commitments and charges that each subject in the supply chain bears, making it clear which alternative solutions are intended to be pursued to fulfill the labeling obligation.

Last modified on 19/11/2021

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