The environmental labels in France and Italy explained in 8 easy points

What are environmental labels? How to comply with the new packaging laws in France and Italy? Can digital links help? Find all the answers to these questions and more.
The new European environmental labels explained in 8 easy points, or How to keep selling your products in France and Italy

Haven’t you noticed? Since January 1, 2023, everything changed. On that day, the new environmental labels and packaging regulations introduced by the AGEC law, decree 2022-748, and decree 2020-116 for all products sold in France and Italy came into effect.

Basically, now all items available on the market in the third and fourth largest economies in the EU must provide environmental information and recycling instructions to consumers directly on product packaging. Other countries in Europe and all over the world will follow soon. It’s the beginning of a new age for transparency and sustainability.

Brands and manufacturers not complying are risking severe penalties, including imprisonment and fines of up to 10% of the company’s turnover.

imprisonment and fines of up to 10_ of the company_s turnover.

So, how do you quickly adjust to the new directives and avoid undesirable consequences? We have put together a quick guide for you: everything you need to know about the new French and Italian environmental labeling regulations in eight key points. (Major spoiler: digital links are a big part of the solution.)

Are you ready? Let’s start!

1. What is the AGEC law?

Approved by the French parliament in 2020, the AGEC law (Anti Gaspillage pour une Economie Circulaire, in English: Anti-Waste for a Circular Economy) establishes a framework for encouraging recycling in the country and reducing unsorted waste, adopting more circular practices.

Among the key objectives of the law are:

  • eliminating single-use plastic packaging by 2040
  • providing consumers with more detailed information
  • promoting reuse, recycling, and repair
  • fighting planned obsolescence
  • enabling better resource management along the supply chain.

2. What is article 13 of the AGEC law?

The now-famous article 13 of the AGEC law provides the guidelines for the environmental claims of brands and manufacturers and for how information about the environmental characteristics of any product sold in France should be made available to consumers.

For instance, article 13 introduces a ban on using words such as “biodegradable” or “environmentally friendly” for products.

What is article 13 of the AGEC law_

3. What is decree 2022-748?

Decree n° 2022-748 of April 29, 2022, implements article 13 of the AGEC law. One of its main effects is making environmental consumer information mandatory on all product packaging in France from January 1, 2023.

This information must be made available through a product sheet in dematerialized (digital) form, accessible at the time of the purchase.

“Dematerialized form” is crucial here, meaning detailed information about the product’s qualities and characteristics can be provided through a digital link QR code redirecting to a product page.

The mandatory information may include (depending on the product category):

  • reparability
  • sustainability
  • compostability
  • recyclability
  • traceability
  • possibility of re-employment
  • incorporation of recycled material
  • use of renewable resources
  • presence of hazardous substances
  • presence of precious metals
  • presence of rare earths
  • presence of plastic microfibers

The obligations introduced by decree 2022-748 apply to manufacturers, importers, dealers, and all other marketers of consumer products that may generate waste, including those operating an online distribution channel (running a proprietary web shop or using e-commerce platforms).

4. What is the Triman logo?

What is the Triman logo_

The implementing decree of article 17 of the AGEC law (2021-835) requires all household products (including cosmetics), clothing textiles, tires, graphic papers, and furniture sold in France, to have the Triman pictograph for unified recycling signage and marking system.

The Triman logo needs to be applied to each inner and outer packaging element.

5. What is Info-Tri?

The same decree that made the Triman logo mandatory also requires products on the French market to include Info-Tri sorting instructions clearly visible on their packaging.

Anyway, there are a couple of exceptions:

  • products without leaflets whose packaging’s biggest side measures between 10 square cm and 20 square cm or have cylindrical or spherical packaging whose biggest side is between 20 square cm and 40 cm must display the Triman logo. Still, they can provide the InfoTri sorting instructions digitally.
  • Products without leaflets whose packaging’s biggest side measures less than 10 square cm or have cylindrical or spherical packaging whose biggest side is less than 20 square cm can provide both the Triman logo and the Info-Tri sorting instructions digitally.

In short, smaller products could be eligible for using a digital link QR code to display the Triman logo and/or provide the sorting instructions as required by decree 2021-835.

6. What is decree 2020-116?

Italian decree (“decreto legislativo”) n° 2020-116 of September 3, 2020, adopting EU directives 2018-851 on waste and 2018-852 on packaging, produces similar effects to the French AGEC law.

As a result, environmental labeling is now mandatory for all packaged products in Italy. Manufacturers must include info about the packaging materials and detailed instructions for recycling and disposal. Information must be provided in Italian.

CONAI – the Italian national packaging consortium – has created an in-depth guide about the implementation of decree 2020-116 for businesses; in any case, one key takeaway here is that the information can be printed directly on the packaging or made available digitally, through a digital link QR code.

7. What businesses are impacted by the environmental labels regulations in France and Italy?

The requirements established for products on the French market by decree 2022-748 will be enforced progressively:

  • from January 1, 2023 – companies with annual revenues >€50m and >25,000 units on the market
  • from January 1, 2024 – companies with annual revenues >€20m and >10,000 units on the market plus all product in the categories Building products and materials, Toys, Passenger cars, Vans, Motor vehicles (with 2 or 3 wheels), and Motor quadricycles
  • from January 1, 2025 – companies with annual revenues >€10m and >10,000 units on the market

The Triman logo and Info-Tri sorting instructions in France are mandatory since September 9, 2022. Products packaged before March 9, 2023, in packaging made before September 2022, can be sold until the stocks run out.

Packaging materials info and disposal instructions on product packaging in Italy, as per decree 2020-116, are mandatory since January 1, 2023.

8. What are the fines and penalties for not complying with the environmental labels regulations in France and Italy?

Brands not displaying the Triman logo and Info-Tri sorting instructions on their packaging in France will receive a warning issued by the surveillance authorities. Continuous non-compliance after the warning can result in fines of up to €100,000 and penalties of up to 2 years in prison.

Manufacturers, importers, and dealers of consumer packaged products in France not providing a dematerialized product sheet with all the environmental information as required by decree 2022-748 can face consequences such as a €15,000 fine per not-complying SKU or, in the future, up to 10% of their global turnover.

What are the fines and penalties for not complying with the environmental regulations in France and Italy_

Companies able to demonstrate that they have started the process of updating packaging by January 2023 are believed to be tolerated for around 6 months.

In Italy, anyone who puts not properly labeled packaging on the market will be fined for an amount between €5,200 and €40,000. Keep in mind that fines are applied to every single unit, meaning that if a business had 10,000 non-compliant units out there, then the maximum fine would be €40,000 x 10,000 units = €400,000,000!

The European environmental labels regulations accelerate the adoption of digital link QR codes

The new labeling laws in France and Italy mean that more mandatory information needs to be displayed on a product’s pack, label, or wrap. Logos, pictographs, tables, writings, in addition to barcodes, other compulsory info or images, and maybe also a QR code or two for marketing purposes or video instructions. Basically, it’s packaging design meltdown.

As more and more legal requirements to inform and protect consumers are enforced (such as the FDA-approved nutrition facts in the US, or the upcoming Digital Product Passport – DPP – in the EU), the real estate on product packaging gets more and more cluttered, leaving little space for branding and captivating design.

The European environmental label regulations accelerate the adoption of digital link QR Codes

Not to mention that more, smaller pieces of information and codes close to each other get difficult to read for both the human eye and scanning devices such as smartphone cameras.

The general feeling is that the behavioral change promoted by these and other laws will push manufacturers, brand, and retailers to switch to digital link QR codes way before the 2027 deadline for the migration from the old barcodes to these smart 2D codes.

Because digital link QR codes are the solution. A digital link QR code is a single code that works with both POS scanners and smartphones, and behaves differently based on who is reading it: consumers who scan a digital link QR code can access a link-in-bio type of product page connecting to all the mandatory information plus additional content, including product recall alerts, tutorials, promotions, loyalty programs, e-shops, and much, much more.

And if you connect your products to the Internet using a digital link QR code generator like ours, you can update the content and info behind the code how many times you need, without reprinting it. Like an endlessly recyclable product page.

In a nutshell:

  • digital link QR codes help companies comply with the environmental label regulations and any other present or future legal requirements for product packaging
  • digital link QR codes free up space on product packaging by combining all the functionalities of other barcodes, QRs, Data Matrix, and tags currently printed or attached to packs and labels
  • digital link QR codes streamline processes across the whole supply chain
  • digital link QR codes provide new ways to establish and maintain brand-consumer relationships, improving the customer experience.

You can experience the power of digital link QR codes by yourself trying our digital link generator tool now, and sign up for free to unlock our advanced features.

Need more details? Reach out at info@digital-link-com, we will be happy to answer all your questions.

Don’t wait until you receive an official warning or get fined!