The TRIMAN logo in the focus of the Euro­pean Commission

The inf­rin­ge­ment pro­ce­du­re against France and the new Pack­a­ging Regulation.

The Euro­pean Com­mis­si­on initia­ted an inf­rin­ge­ment pro­ce­du­re against France on 15 Febru­ary 2023 and reques­ted the coun­try to chan­ge its natio­nal label­ling rules for was­te sepa­ra­ti­on. Accor­ding to the Com­mis­si­on, the French was­te law is not in line with the prin­ci­ples of the Euro­pean Sin­gle Mar­ket becau­se it pro­vi­des for the man­da­to­ry use of a sort­ing logo, the TRIMAN logo and the Info-tri logo, which is not man­da­to­ry in other Mem­ber Sta­tes. With the plan­ned Pack­a­ging Regu­la­ti­on, the EU Com­mis­si­on wants to cle­ar­ly res­train natio­nal go-it-alones.

EU pack­a­ging law

The French TRIMAN Logo

Despi­te their sub­or­di­na­te rele­van­ce in the value chain, the­re has been no issue in the last two years that has occu­p­ied inter­na­tio­nal­ly ope­ra­ting com­pa­nies more than the label­ling regu­la­ti­ons for pack­a­ging appli­ca­ble in France, in par­ti­cu­lar the TRIMAN logo and the infor­ma­ti­on on sort­ing pro­ce­du­res (Info-tri), which have been in force for house­hold pro­ducts inclu­ding elec­tri­cal equip­ment sin­ce 1 Janu­ary 2021 and are part of the Exten­ded Pro­du­cer Respon­si­bi­li­ty (EPR) sys­tem. The cur­rent EU Pack­a­ging Direc­ti­ve, which was trans­po­sed into Ger­man law by the Ger­man Pack­a­ging Act (Ver­pa­ckungs­ge­setz), does not con­tain any cor­re­spon­ding regu­la­ti­ons on was­te sepa­ra­ti­on label­ling on the pro­duct. Nevert­hel­ess, in addi­ti­on to France, other Mem­ber Sta­tes such as Bel­gi­um, Ita­ly and Spain have also enac­ted their own natio­nal label­ling regu­la­ti­ons, which incre­asing­ly lead to a frag­men­ta­ti­on of the label­ling land­scape and make a har­mo­nis­ed label­ling sys­tem a distant prospect.

EU inf­rin­ge­ment procedure

On 23 Febru­ary 2023, the EU Com­mis­si­on initia­ted an inf­rin­ge­ment pro­ce­du­re against France, which might be deci­ded in the last ins­tance by the ECJ and as a result of which finan­cial sanc­tions might be impo­sed. In this pro­ce­du­re, the Com­mis­si­on is curr­ent­ly arguing that the French TRIMAN regu­la­ti­on con­sti­tu­tes an obs­ta­cle to the Euro­pean Sin­gle Mar­ket and the prin­ci­ple of the free move­ment of goods, sin­ce the requi­re­ment of addi­tio­nal label­ling cau­ses increased mate­ri­al con­sump­ti­on and thus more was­te. In addi­ti­on, the Com­mis­si­on argues that France has vio­la­ted its own noti­fi­ca­ti­on obli­ga­ti­on, as the law has cross-border effects of which the Com­mis­si­on would have had to be infor­med alre­a­dy during the draf­ting stage. Despi­te this pro­ce­du­re, howe­ver, it should be noted that the obli­ga­ti­on to affix the TRIMAN logo remains in force as long as the French natio­nal legis­la­tor does not repeal the regu­la­ti­on. The­r­e­fo­re, the French mar­ket sur­veil­lan­ce aut­ho­ri­ties will con­ti­nue to moni­tor com­pli­ance with the TRIMAN regu­la­ti­ons and impo­se sanc­tions, if necessary.

Out­look: The new Pack­a­ging Regulation

The legis­la­ti­ve pro­ce­du­re is curr­ent­ly under­way in the EU for the enact­ment of a new Pack­a­ging Regu­la­ti­on, which is inten­ded to coun­ter­act the incre­asing frag­men­ta­ti­on through natio­nal regu­la­ti­ons by intro­du­cing uni­form label­ling regu­la­ti­ons and to replace the almost 30-year-old Pack­a­ging Direc­ti­ve. The label­ling obli­ga­ti­on is pri­ma­ri­ly about the mate­ri­al com­po­si­ti­on of pack­a­ging and infor­ma­ti­on on its reusa­bi­li­ty. In addi­ti­on, manu­fac­tu­r­ers and importers will have to put their name and cont­act details as well as a seri­al or batch num­ber on the pack­a­ging. With regard to the EPR, the Com­mis­si­on draft curr­ent­ly pro­vi­des that Mem­ber Sta­tes may adopt addi­tio­nal label­ling requi­re­ments if the pack­a­ging par­ti­ci­pa­tes in an Exten­ded Pro­du­cer Respon­si­bi­li­ty sys­tem (e.g. regis­tra­ti­on, data report­ing) or in a depo­sit and return sys­tem, which sug­gests that natio­nal label­ling requi­re­ments such as the TRIMAN will still be pos­si­ble after the adop­ti­on of the new Regu­la­ti­on. At the same time, howe­ver, the Com­mis­si­on makes it clear in Artic­le 4 that Mem­ber Sta­tes may not pro­hi­bit or impe­de the pla­cing on the mar­ket of pack­a­ging that com­pli­es with the requi­re­ments of the new Regu­la­ti­on but pos­si­bly not with the natio­nal requi­re­ments of a Mem­ber State.


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