Packaging and packaging waste

Packaging and packaging waste must not contain certain heavy metals and they must meet the basic requirements applicable to packaging. The company that manufactures the packaging or imports the packaging to Finland is responsible for its conformity with requirements.

The company that places packaging on the market (e.g. through manufacturing, importing or packaging) in Finland is responsible for the compliance of their packaging with requirements. The aim of legislation related to packaging is to promote the recycling, reuse and recovery of packaging and packaging waste.

Packaging is a product, which:

  • stores or protects a substance or an object
  • facilitates the display of a substance or an object
  • enables the handling or transportation of a substance or an object.

In addition, packaging must fulfil the additional criteria set for sales, grouped and transport packaging. These are presented in more detail in Annex 1 to the Government decree on packaging and packaging waste (1029/2021).

A sales packaging is intended for storing units available for sale at the place of sale (sales units). For example, a detergent bottle is a sales packaging.

A grouped packaging is intended for storing a group of sales units at the place of sale. A grouped packaging can be sold as such or it can only be used at the place of sale. A grouped packaging can be removed without changing the properties of sales units. 

A transport packaging is intended to facilitate the handling and transport of sales packaging. Containers that are used in road, rail, sea and air transport are not transport packaging.

Substances restricted in packaging

A packaging or a part of it removed by hand or by using simple physical methods can contain a maximum of 100 milligrams per kilogram of (measured from the weight of the packaging or its part):

  • cadmium
  • lead
  • mercury
  • hexavalent chromium.

This does not apply to glass packaging or plastic crates or pallets used in a closed and controlled product cycle, which may contain more heavy metals than defined above with certain conditions. Companies that place on the market glass packaging or plastic crates or pallets used in a closed and controlled product cycle shall comply with reporting and other requirements (Commission Decision on plastic crates and plastic pallets 2009/292/EC and Commission Decision on glass packaging 2001/171/EC).

The restriction on heavy metal concentrations does not apply to packaging made of crystal glass. 

Labelling of packaging

In Finland, identification markings for materials used in packaging are optional. If a company labels packaging with the materials used for the packaging, the labelling must be made in accordance with Annex 3 of the Finnish Government Decree on Packaging and Packaging Waste.

Markings can also be added to packaging to facilitate the reuse of the packaging or the sorting and use of a packaging removed from use. The markings can be based on the waste pictogram system used generally in the Nordic countries. 

Provisions on labelling requirements for certain single-use plastics and their sales and grouped packaging are laid down in the Government decree on certain single-use plastics (771/2021). More information on single-use plastics is available on the Tukes website.

The product inside the packaging determines what other marking and labelling requirements the packaging must meet.

Basic requirements of packaging

Packaging must meet certain basic requirements applicable to its manufacture, composition, recyclability and recovery.
According to the basic requirements packaging shall:

  • be as small and light as possible
  • meet the required levels of safety, hygiene and acceptability
  • be reusable and recoverable, if possible
  • contain as low concentration levels of harmful and hazardous substances as possible
  • endure several rounds of transport and use
  • have a minimised negative effect on the environmental caused by the final disposal of the packaging
  • not endanger the health and safety of employees handling the packaging
  • meet the recovery requirements set for packaging, when the packaging becomes waste
  • include a certain percentage of recyclable material, if the packaging is recyclable
  • have a minimum calorific value, if the packaging waste is submitted for energy recovery
  • be sufficiently biodegradable, if the packaging waste is compostable.

Producer responsibility

Producer responsibility applies to packaging. Producer responsibility means that product manufacturers, importers, distance sellers and packagers are responsible for arranging waste management for their products and for associated costs. Matters related to producer responsibility in Finland have been centralised under the supervision of the Pirkanmaa ELY Centre.

Food contact materials

Product requirements on packaging that is intended to come into contact with food are stricter than requirements for other packaging. In Finland, food product packaging is monitored by the Finnish Food Authority.