Packaging and packaging waste

Provisions on the requirements concerning the characteristics and labelling of packaging to be placed on the market in Finland, the separate collection, reuse, and recycling of used packaging, and other waste management are laid down in the Finnish Government Decree on Packaging and Packaging Waste (518/2014). The aim of the Decree is to facilitate, for the consumer, the easier delivery of packaging waste for free of charge collection, and to enhance the recycling of packaging waste.

 

Conformity with the product-specific requirements of packaging is supervised by Tukes. Tukes is responsible for monitoring compliance with basic requirements applicable to packaging, its heavy-metal concentration levels and labelling.

 

Basic requirements for packaging

Packaging is a product intended for the storage or protection of a substance or object, enabling its display or facilitating its handling or transportation from the manufacturer to consumers.

 

Packaging placed on the market may contain up to 100 milligrams per kilogram of lead, cadmium, mercury and hexavalent chromium. Such heavy-metal concentration level restrictions are not applicable to glass packaging or a plastic crate or pallet used in a closed and controlled product cycle.

 

Packaging shall meet the basic requirements applicable to its manufacture, composition, recyclability and recovery. Such requirements include the following:

  • The size and weight of packaging shall be limited as far as possible, but the required levels of safety, hygiene and acceptability shall nevertheless be ensured with respect to both the product contained in the packaging and consumers.
  • Reuse or recovery shall be facilitated, while minimising the environmental nuisance caused by the final disposal of waste.
  • During the manufacturing process for packaging, it shall be ensured that concentration levels of harmful and hazardous substances remain as low as possible.
  • Packaging shall endure several rounds of transport and use.
  • Health and safety of employees shall not be endangered when they are handling packaging.
  • Recyclable packaging shall include a certain percentage, by mass, of recyclable material.
  • Packaging waste submitted for energy recovery shall have a minimum calorific value.
  • Compostable packaging waste shall be sufficiently biodegradable.
  • Packaging placed on the market can be marked in accordance with the instructions laid down in the Decree in order to facilitate the identification of the materials used.

 

Manufacturer's and importer's responsibility

The party placing the packaging  on the market – in practical terms, the manufacturer or importer – is responsible for ensuring the conformity of the product and the substances it contains. Tukes' surveillance mainly covers Finnish manufacturers and importers and, in part, other links, such as distributors, in the product delivery chain.

 

A party which places on the market a plastic crate or pallet used in product loops in a closed and controlled chain, or the authorised representative of such a party, shall annually present Tukes with a written declaration of conformity and an annual report demonstrating compliance with the conditions laid down in the Commission Decision (2009/292/EC). If necessary, a report in compliance with the Commission Decision (2001/171/EC) shall be drawn up for glass packaging.



Other surveillance authorities

The authority supervising the producer responsibility specified in the Decree is the Pirkanmaa Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment, Finland. More stringent targets have been introduced for the reuse and recycling of packaging waste, while binding requirements have been provided for the recycling ratio applicable to different packaging materials. The aim of this is to promote recycling.

 

Provisions for product requirements on packaging that is intended to come into contact with food are laid down in Regulation (EC) No 1935/2004. In Finland, the National Food Safety Authority Evira is the national competent authority designated for this Regulation. The EU regulations REACH (1907/2006) and CLP concerning the classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures (1272/2008) also apply to packaging materials that contain hazardous substances.

 

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