If space on the packaging is limited, or if the packaging is neutral, is it possible to insert environmental labeling information on the documentation associated with the product (e.g. delivery note / transport document)?

Neutral packaging means unprinted packaging that does not include graphics or the affixing of any symbols and information, and which are sold as such to customers by the manufacturers.

The regulations do not exclude such packaging from the obligation. However, for some of these cases, important technological limitations have been identified that may not allow the physical affixing of environmental labeling on the packaging.

In this regard, in the clarification note sent by the Ministry of Ecological Transition on May 17, 2021, two particular cases are made explicit:

  • Neutral packaging in general, with particular reference to transport packaging and / or possible semi-finished products.

The note defines that given the critical issues encountered by operators, both economically and structurally, in meeting this obligation, it is necessary to consider a possible alternative to the traditional labeling to be affixed to the packaging itself. Therefore, for these packaging, which are mostly part of the B2B channel, the identification of the packaging material can be conveyed and communicated by the manufacturer on the transport documents accompanying the goods, or on other external media, including digital ones.

  • Pre-wrapping and variable weight distribution packaging

The pre-wrapped items are defined by the circular of 31 March 2000, n. 165 of the then Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Crafts published in the Official Gazette no. 92 General Series of April 19, 2000, refers to variable weight packaging, often used at the fresh counter or for self-service and which are finalized once the food product is contained.

Also for this case of packaging there are objective difficulties for the physical affixing of the environmental labeling of the packaging: it could in fact be packaging intended for fresh food products (e.g. fish products) that cannot be printed, it is about packaging whose intended use is not known with certainty at the time of production and sale (i.e. whether it will be packaging or products intended for domestic use), in others it is packaging prepared / cut to measured at the point of sale (eg aluminum or plastic film), and therefore not susceptible to immediate printing.

With the aim of overcoming these critical issues, the Ministry of Ecological Transition clarified, with reference to the note sent on May 17, 2021, that for these cases the labeling obligation is considered fulfilled if the information regarding the composition of the packaging pursuant to decision 129/97 / EC and the information to support the consumer in the correct separate collection, can be inferred from information sheets made available to end consumers at the point of sale (e.g. next to information on allergens, or with specific information sheets placed next to the Banco), or by making this information available on websites with predefined standard cards.

The standard does not provide for any exemption for packaging of small dimensions, and / or with reduced printed space, nor for multilingual ones, nor for those imported.

However, for these cases there are often operational difficulties in foreseeing the physical affixing of environmental labeling on the packaging, in particular for small-sized packaging, for which, if contained in a multipack, the way could be to affix environmental labeling on presentation packaging, but when they are sold in bulk, there may be physical limitations for affixing environmental labeling, and / or difficulties in the visibility and legibility of the information.

In this regard, with a note dated May 17, 2021, the Ministry of Ecological Transition clarified that where there are actual physical and / or technological limits for the physical affixing of environmental labeling on the packaging, such information can be conveyed through digital channels.[1] , or where even this route is not feasible, they must be made available through the websites of the company and / or the retailer.

To make the mandatory environmental information about the composition and correct management of packaging at the end of its life more easily available and accessible to the final consumer, it is suggested to provide clear indications on the packaging or at the point of sale, regarding the methods by which the consumer can search for them through digital tools or websites.

[1] In this regard, it should be noted that in general the use of digital channels is particularly encouraged by the explanatory note sent by MITE on 17 May 2021 (see FAQ no. 16 on digital channels).

What does small packaging mean?

The standard does not provide for a univocal definition of small packaging, however in the note released on May 17, 2021 by the Ministry of Ecological Transition, the definitions of small packaging already used by the Legislator in Regulations of specific supply chains, such as food and hazardous substances. These Regulations define the small packaging as follows:

  1. Packaging in which the largest surface is less than 25 cm 2 – definition taken from Regulation (EU) No. 1169/2011, which indicates the obligation to carry the nutritional declarations of the products contained on the food packs and which provides for the possibility of exempting small-sized packaging thus identified from the obligation;
  2. Packaging with a capacity not exceeding 125 ml – definition taken from the CLP Regulation (Regulation (EC) No. 1272/2008, Article 29 paragraph 2 and Point 1.5.2 of Part I of Annex I), which provides that substances classified as dangerous, and contained in a package, are provided with a label containing specific elements , and considers some exceptions to this obligation precisely for the small packaging thus identified.

Last modified on 19/11/2021

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