Separate collection of waste is an enabler for the recovery of valuable materials which can be recycled or otherwise valorised. However, it relies on adequate sorting by individuals, which can be facilitated by relevant information provided on the product packaging (on-pack labelling), and on the receptacles used for waste collection.
Waste from packaging represents up to 40% of municipal solid waste and can drive the improvement in collection of recyclable materials. Meanwhile, as EU deadlines for separate collection targets close in, Member States are implementing various schemes designed to assist sorting, including labelling on products and bins. This often results in a multiplication of labels to be displayed in different jurisdictions, increasing costs for producers and increasing the risk of confusion for consumers.
Harmonised labels to be displayed on product packaging, with matching labels on waste receptacles indicating where those should be disposed of, would address these issues and yield economic and environmental benefits.
The analysis presented herein assesses the environmental and socioeconomic impacts of introducing such a harmonised labelling in the EU over the coming years. Results suggest that this measure would generate a net benefit as compared to a business-as-usual scenario. It would be expected to yield overall socio-economic benefits, and improvements in environmental performance in all cases considered.
The JRC report can be accessed here.