Packaging and Packaging Waste

The aim of legislation is to reduce the environmental impact of packaging and packaging waste as well as to promote recycling, reuse and recovery of packaging and packaging waste.

Packaging must meet certain requirements set by the legislation, and they must not contain certain heavy metals in concentrations that exceed the set limits. The company that places the packaging on the market in Finland (manufacturer, importer, packager) is responsible for packaging being compliant with the requirements. Tukes monitors the certain restricted heavy metals in packaging placed on the market as well as the compliance of the requirements set for packaging.


Packaging is a product, which is intended to be used for:

  • storing or protecting a substance or an object,
  • facilitating the display of a substance or an object,
  • enabling the handling or transportation of a substance or an object.

In addition, packaging must fulfil the other 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).

Sales packaging is intended for storing units available for sale to final users or consumers at the point of purchase (sales units). For example, a detergent bottle is a sales packaging.

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

Transport packaging is intended to ease the handling and transport of sales packaging. Transport packaging does not include road, rail, ship, and air containers.

Substances Restricted in Packaging

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

  • lead,
  • cadmium,
  • mercury,
  • hexavalent chromium.

This does not apply to glass packaging or plastic crates or pallets used in a closed and controlled product cycle. They may, under certain conditions, contain a higher heavy metal concentration than defined above. Companies that place on the market such packaging 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 concentration does not apply to packaging made of crystal glass. 

Requirements for Packaging

Packaging must fulfil certain requirements specific to the manufacturing, composition, reusability, recycling, and recovery. According to the requirements packaging shall:

  • be as small in volume and light as possible but maintain the required level of safety and hygiene for both the product and the consumer;
  • be reusable and recoverable, including recycling, to minimise its negative impact on the environment concerning the final disposal;
  • keep the concentration of harmful and hazardous substances as low as possible;
  • when reusable, enable several rounds or rotations of transport and use;
  • be safe for the health and safety of employees managing the used packaging;
  • fulfil the recovery requirements for packaging when the used packaging becomes waste
    • include a certain percentage of recyclable material if the packaging is recyclable,
    • have a minimum inferior calorific value if the packaging waste is used in energy recovery,
    • be sufficiently biodegradable and must not interfere the separate collection or the composting process of compostable waste, if the packaging waste is compostable,
  • be compliant with certain harmonised standards whose reference numbers have been published in the Official Journal of the EU.

Single-use plastic beverage containers with a capacity of up to three litres, can be placed on the market in Finland only if the plastic caps and lids still are attached to beverage containers during the intended use. The requirement enters into force from July 3, 2024. More information about single-use plastic beverage containers is available on Tukes website.

Package Markings

In Finland, identification markings for materials used in packaging are optional. If the company uses package markings for indicating the materials used for the package or its label, it must be done in accordance with Annex 3 of the Finnish Government Decree on Packaging and Packaging Waste. The marking must be clear and easy to read even after the packaging has been opened.

In addition, the packaging can be marked to facilitate the reuse of the packaging and the sorting and utilization of the discarded packaging. The markings can be based, for example, on the waste pictogram system used generally in the Nordic countries.

Provisions on marking requirements for certain single-use plastics and their sales and grouped packaging are laid down in the Government Decree on Certain Single-Use Plastics (1318/2022). More information on single-use plastics is available on Tukes website.

The product contained in the packaging determines the other marking and labelling requirements the packaging must fulfil.

Extended Producer Responsibility

Extended producer responsibility applies to packaging. This means that product manufacturers, importers, distance sellers and packagers are responsible to the management and for the associated costs of their products when they are discarded. In Finland, the Pirkanmaa ELY Centre (PIR-ELY) is the supervisory authority regarding extended producer responsibility.

Food Contact Materials

The product requirements are stricter for packaging that is intended to come into contact with food. In Finland, the Finnish Food Authority is the supervisory authority regarding food product packaging.