Recyclability, Environmental claims

“Recyclability” – only in theory?!

On supermarket shelves we find a colorful variety of logos and labels that advertise product packaging as “recyclable” and thus supposedly environmentally friendly. But what does “recyclable” actually mean?

Only rarely is it transparent to the end user what exactly the claim refers to:

Whereas some of the logos are based on a manufacturer’s own scoring system, some are distributed by take-back and disposal systems, or they refer to different European standards. Not only makes this a comparison almost impossible, it also remains unclear whether recyclability actually leads to appropriate treatment, or whether this is a purely theoretical possibility.

“Recyclable” packaging is, however, becoming increasingly attractive for manufacturers – from a competition point of view as well as under financial aspects related to the obligation to finance disposal under the extended producer responsibility principle and the associated eco-modulation of the recycling fees. The possibility of creating a “win-win” situation for manufacturers, users and the environment through truly recyclable and sustainable product packaging is tempting, but requires careful consideration in view of the applicable regulations in the tension area of competition, environmental and waste laws.

While the requirements are not harmonized throughout the EU, clearer criteria may already be identified at a national level. For Germany, the Central Packaging Register Office provides the packaging recycling systems with a uniform standard for measuring recyclability, which determines the recycling value of the packaging based on the infrastructure actually available, ability for sorting and separability, as well as any incompatibilities with these parameters. The annually renewed standard is currently in public consultation until July 16, 2021.

Combine sustainability and compliance aspects with regard to the recyclability of your products with the support of NovaLoop – feel free to contact us! Learn more about our ELLIE-module and how to comply with environmental labeling- and information requirements.