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.

Packaging is within the scope of producer responsibility. Producer responsibility means that the company that has packaged the product or imported the packaged product to Finland is responsible for the waste management costs when the packaging is removed from use. Matters related to producer responsibility in Finland have been centralised under the supervision of the Pirkanmaa ELY Centre.

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.

The aim of legislation related to packaging is to promote the recycling, reuse and recovery of packaging and packaging waste.

Substances restricted in packaging

Packaging may contain a maximum of 100 milligrams per kilogram of:

  • 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 manufacture or import 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).

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.
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.

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.