Italy: Labelling for packaging: the new Guidelines of the Ministry of Ecological Transition
On September 29, 2022 the Ministry for the Ecological Transition issued specific and detailed official guidelines providing clarifications and technical instructions for operators to deal with the new regulation concerning packaging, labelling and recycling, applicable in Italy starting form January 1, 2023. Here is a contribution on the main new features.
In our April 2022 Newsletter, we addressed the issue of the gradual implementation in Italy of the European Directives converning packaging, labelling and recycling, by providing for specific regulation. (Please find hereinafter our article: "Packaging and waste management: the latest news”: https://www.cocuzzaeassociati.it/en/newsletter-legal-kit-news/packaging-and-waste-management-the-latest-news/).
The Directives have been implemented in Italy with Legislative Decree 116/2020 (“Decree”), but the effectiveness of the regulation has been postponed until January 1, 2023 when the regulation finally came into force.
On September 29, 2022, the Ministry for the Ecological Transition issued specific and detailed official guidelines (“Guidelines”) containing clarifications and technical instructions for operators to deal with the new regulation.
The Guidelines follow the informal private guidelines already issued by the CONAI (“National Packaging Association”) and are fundamental since they: (i) transpose most of the CONAI's informal principles and guidance and complement them with further technical assessments; (ii) constitute an official and formal regulation, unlike the CONAI ones which were a private and informal guide.
Coming to the substantial provisions - as mentioned in our previous article - the Decree amends article 219, paragraph 5, of the “Italian Environmental Act” by stating that the environmental labelling of packaging becomes mandatory and must be implemented by the manufacturers based on the provisions of EU rules and UNI standards.
Notwithstanding the above, the new rules set forth by the Decree appeared to the legal experts and to the companies affected by the regulation, to be very unclear and ambiguous.
In this regard, the Guidelines have made a new fundamental contribution to the interpretation and clarification of the new rules.
In particular, the Guidelines specify that: i) pursuant to the Decree, all packaging must be labelled “appropriately”. Therefore, the labelling shall be carried out in the form that each company considers most suitable to achieve the target (e.g. digital channels as QR code, website are allowed as alternative to the physical label); ii) the manufacturers must indicate the alphanumeric code provided for in Decision 97/129/EC on all packaging based on the material; iii) B2C packaging must bear suitable inscriptions aiding its disposal; iv) for multi-component B2C packaging: each component that can be separated by hand shall be identified and classified pursuant to the rules of the Decree; v) each packaging component shall at least indicate: a) the packaging material’s identification code under Decision 129/97/EC; b) Information on separate waste collection when this is not indicated on the outer presentation packaging.
The Guidelines also provide for non binding examples of possible labelling solutions that companies may adopt to report mandatory and voluntary information to end users.