What is the recylability label?

It’s a label identifying the percentage of the packaging material that can be recycled. This is a voluntary identification label that has emerged in response to the need for packaging companies to quantify, compare and guarantee the recyclability of their packaging, as well as ensuring compliance with the legal requirements.

In addition to the evaluation performed to obtain this label, applicants gain exhaustive knowledge of the interferences that their packaging could generate in the recycling processes, as well as suggestions for improving their recyclability.

To perform this evaluation and obtain the label, the various features of the packaging (colour, materials, dimensions etc.) are considered as well as the technology available for recycling it.

What does this label identify?

The label identifies the percentage of the packaging’s material that can be recycled, according to the data provided by the applicant, also guaranteeing that the evaluation criteria complies with the minimum requirements established by Standard UNE EN 13430 “Requirements for packaging recoverable by material recycling”.

In addition to these minimum requirements, the evaluation takes into account the idiosyncrasy of each material, of all the stages of its recycling process, as well as the technologies available in relation to packaging recycling.

Is it compulsory?

No. Companies are not obliged to use the label. However, by using it they can demonstrate and prove their environmental commitments in relation to recyclability of packaging.

Once the evaluation has been carried out, is it compulsory to include the label on the packaging?

No. Each company will decide whether they consider it appropriate or not to include the label with the result they obtain on their packaging.

In the prior evaluation, the interferences of the packaging in the recycling processes are identified and suggestions for improvement are indicated. Therefore, companies can decide whether they want to continue with the certification or on the other hand, they can decide to work on incorporating the suggestions for improvement and carrying out the certification once these are incorporated in the packaging with the aim of ensuring a higher percentage.

What must be provided to obtain the label?

Companies that apply for the label must provide all the data in relation to the packaging’s design, as well as the materials and various substances that comprise it, in addition to physical samples of the packaging for analysis.

To ensure the validity of the label, the applicant company must save the provided packaging data for two years, therefore guaranteeing that the analysis carried out matches the characteristics of the packaging that bears the label.

Can any packaging obtain the label?

Yes. The recyclability label and certification indicate the percentage of the packaging’s material that can be recycled, which can be between 0 and 100%.

The evaluation will be performed in accordance with existing recycling processes and depending on the characteristics of the type of packaging.

Does the label evaluate the environmental behaviour of the packaging?

No. The evaluation is limited to the packaging’s behaviour during the recycling processes. To improve the packaging’s environmental behaviour it is necessary to carry out an ecodesign study, based on a Life Cycle Assessment.

For how long is it valid?

Both the certification as well as the label will be valid for 2 years. After this period, although the packaging may not have changed, a new evaluation will be required to continue using it, as the recycling processes may have developed positively or negatively in terms of its recyclability. Any qualitative or quantitative variation of the packaging components leads to the use of label being prohibited, a new assessment being required before it can be used again.

Which companies developed it?

Dríade Soluciones Medioambientales and the Instituto Mediterráneo para el Desarrollo Sostenible (IMEDES, the Mediterranean institute for sustainable development) participated in developing the label, with the scientific assistance of the ESCI-UPF UNESCO Chair in Life Cycle and Climate Change. In addition, the latter will carry out an external review of every evaluation carried out, with the aim of ensuring that the criteria described in the label’s procedures are followed.

What type of ecolabel is the recyclability label?

It is a type II ecolabel. This refers to a self-declaration by the company that owns the packaging, with external evaluation and review by a third party.

As with any relevant ecolabel, the application of the label will have an improvement period of three years and will be analysed by the ESCI-UPF UNESCO Chair to identify strong points and possible improvements in accordance with the development of knowledge of ecolabels, the corresponding ISO standards and other references.