01/05/04 Marking and Material Identification
The Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive says that use of a material identification system is voluntary. There are no harmonised EU rules on other types of marks or symbols on packaging, although many different symbols are currently in use throughout Europe and the rest of the world.
Operators who decide voluntarily to mark packaging to indicate what material it is made of must follow the system set down in Commission Decision 97/129/EC. This Decision lays down an identification system for packaging made from plastics, paper or fibreboard, metal, wood, textiles, glass or composite packaging. The system is a combination of numbers and abbreviations which should appear in the centre of or below the "recyclable" or "reusable" symbols. It is not the same as a system developed by CEN (European Standardisation Committee), which uses material identifiers commonly used across the world.
Some EU Member States have made it mandatory to use the EU material identification system. EUROPEN has written to the European Commission to express concern that this is contrary to EU law. In the absence of an internationally agreed material identification system, EUROPEN believes that packaging material identification should remain voluntary. Mandatory requirements risk creating barriers to trade.< back to list