The Dutch Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate (ILT) is strictly enforcing regulations regarding packaging and the determination of the minimum sufficient weight in the product files that identify that the rules and regulations for packaging have been met. The minimum sufficient weight is the minimum weight of the packaging without compromising the required level of safety, hygiene, and acceptability of the packaged product to the user or consumer. According to the ILT, the current product files of glass bottles do not adequately demonstrate the minimum sufficient weight of the packaging. The ILT has now imposed multiple orders subject to incremental penalties to address this shortcoming. The applicable rules for the product files of packaging are included in, among others, the European Directive 94/62/EC and the Dutch Packaging Decree 2014. Our Dutch product safety lawyers have previously written about the Dutch Packaging Decree (Besluit beheer verpakkingen) in the context of the changes relating to deposits. In this blog, our product regulation specialists discuss the legal requirements for product files in the context of the minimum sufficient weight.
WHAT ARE THE RULES FOR GLASS BOTTLES AND PACKAGING?
The rules for glass bottles and packaging result from the European Directive 94/62/EC (the Directive). The Directive requires that the volume and weight of the packaging are at a minimum commensurate with the maintenance of functionality throughout the supply and user chain, safety and hygiene for both the product and user/consumer, and acceptability of the packed product to the user/consumer. The Dutch Packaging Decree implements the Directive and stipulates that, upon request, all information must be provided to prove that the requirements have been met. This results in the obligation to draw up a product file. Based on the Dutch Packaging Regulation (Regeling beheer verpakkingen), a number of NEN-EN standards have been designated, by means of which it can be demonstrated that the legal requirements ensuing from the Directive and the Dutch Packaging Decree have been met. The NEN-EN 13428 is one of these designated NEN standards. The NEN-EN 13248 actually forms a manual for demonstrating that the minimum sufficient weight of the packaging has been achieved.
THE CRITICAL FACTOR AND PERFORMANCE CRITERIA
The party placing the packaging on the market must determine the critical factor with reference to the performance criteria. The performance criteria are the aspects that are relevant to and affect the packaging. These include, for example, logistics, the packaging/filling process, legislation, and/or safety. The performance criteria must be explained and assessed in terms of their impact on the weight and/or volume of the packaging. The critical factor is the performance criterion that prevents the packaging from being (even) lighter or smaller. For example, glass beverage packaging must be resistant to heavy impacts on the conveying, filling, and packaging lines. The required impact resistance translates into the required wall thickness of the bottle and thus the weight. If this performance criterion, the packaging/filling process in this example, prevents the bottle from being lighter, this is the critical factor.
THE MINIMUM SUFFICIENT WEIGHT AND THE SPECIFICATION
The minimum sufficient weight is the minimum weight of the packaging without compromising the required level of safety, hygiene, and acceptability of the packaged product to the user or consumer. The identification of the critical factor and the determination of the minimum sufficient weight must be substantiated with evidence. This evidence may include tests, test results, studies, or documented practical experience. The determination of the critical factor and the minimum sufficient weight, as well as the supporting evidence, shall be compiled and presented in a product file. The product file must clearly show that the applicable regulations have been complied with. Please note that, in addition to the determination of the critical factor and the minimum sufficient weight, product files must meet many more requirements. Among other things, product files must show that specific requirements regarding recycling and hazardous substances have been met.
LEGAL ADVICE ON THE LEGAL REQUIREMENTS FOR PACKAGING
Do you want legal advice on the legal requirements for packaging and how to comply with the rules and documentation? Feel free to ask our lawyers about this – we will be happy to help you further. Currently, we are receiving various questions from the industry on this subject, and we assist many parties in the market.
ENFORCEMENT BY THE ILT
The ILT is the supervisor of the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment in the Netherlands. Our lawyers for product regulations regularly act for organizations faced with enforcement issues by the ILT. We can clarify uncertain situations for our clients and can give answers to important questions like What about deadlines? When and how should I lodge an objection or appeal? What are my rights? Etc.
As an Amsterdam-based law firm, we have built up a strong reputation in this area and can advise and represent you on site. Our lawyers will also be happy to support you in the event of a (commercial) dispute with other market participants.
CONTACT A PACKAGING LAWYER IN THE Netherlands
The lawyers at MAAK Advocaten in Amsterdam have extensive experience in assisting companies in the packaging industry with a wide range of issues concerning product regulation and the Dutch Packaging Decree. If you would like to get advice or have any questions in the field of packaging law, please contact our lawyers in the Netherlands Sander van Someren Gréve or Martin Krüger.