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French Court Revokes Restrictions On The Green Dot Symbol

Jul 11, 2023 French Court Revokes Restrictions On The Green Dot Symbol

Authored by Freida Wüschner Gubbins, Senior Global Regulatory Compliance Specialist at Compliance and Risks

June 2023 Green Dot Update

After two years of court proceedings, on 30 June 2023 the French Supreme Administrative Court (the Conseil d’État) finally announced its decision to revoke legislation that penalized the use of the “Green Dot” symbol in France.

This decision therefore ensures that the use of the Green Dot symbol will remain voluntary in France and will not incur a penalty payment (malus).

The Court’s decision was based on a number of factors, including the failure of the State to notify the EU Commission of the measure during its drafting, as required under EU Directive (EU) 2015/1535.

The Court also charged the State with two separate fines; 4,000 euros to be paid to the French association of detergent industries and others, and 2,000 euros to be paid to Der Grüne Punkt Duales System Deutschland and others.

The Court’s Decision is viewable in French here.

2022 Green Dot Update

France has announced it will phase out the voluntary “Green Dot/Le Point Vert” symbol, under the Decree amending the Decree relating to the approval of procedures and laying down specifications for eco-organizations in the household packaging sector (published on 1 January 2021).

The decision to discard the Green Dot symbol, which signifies financing by an organization for recovery, sorting and recycling of sales packaging, was made following arguments that the symbol is confusing to consumers as it does not indicate recyclability but rather that a recycling fee was paid.

Businesses have been granted two exemptions to the decision;

  • Packaged products or packaging manufactured or imported before 1 April 2021, which will benefit from a stock run-out period not exceeding 18 months from that date
  • Packaged products or manufactured or imported packaging on which this signage or marking is affixed in application of a regulatory obligation set by another Member State of the European Union, when the producer markets the product in identical packaging on the national territory and in this other Member State, until 1 January 2022. Such packaging or products packaged before this date also benefit from a period of stock disposal not exceeding 12 months from that date.

Failure to comply with the Decree from 1 April 2021 will result in penalties, with the exception of the exemptions previously listed.

Enacted Legislation and Suspensions

In 2021, the French Ministry for Ecological Transition enacted legislation to prohibit the use of the “Green Dot” symbol in France. The decision to penalise the use of the symbol was based on research that classified the symbol as misleading to consumers, since many incorrectly interpreted the symbol as a recycling mark (the symbol indicates the payment of a financial contribution to a qualified national packaging recovery organization).

Despite the Ministry’s efforts to prohibit the symbol by 1 April 2021, the enforcing Orders have been suspended, as they are now subject to ongoing court proceedings.

Once the implications of the French Ministerial Orders were realised, the Green Dot’s parent organisations in Europe “Der Grüne Punkt GmbH and PRO Europe s.r.l.” alongside other stakeholders appealed to the French Supreme Administrative Court, the Conseil d’État, which granted an immediate suspension of the Orders, therefore allowing the continued use of the Green Dot in France.

The suspension will remain in effect until the Court reaches its final verdict. It is expected that the proceedings will continue throughout 2023.

Packaging Labelling Legislation in Europe: A 2023 Regulatory Update

In recent years packaging labelling practices across Europe have undergone dramatic changes, leading to a growing lack of legislative harmony and disruption to market access.

Our experts have written a new Whitepaper to provide an overview of current legal requirements for packaging labelling in all European countries and outlines upcoming and proposed legal changes across the continent.

It aims to provide you with the latest regulatory information to help your business better respond to changing regulations and ensure compliance for your products.

This whitepaper covers:

  • Current legal requirements across all of Europe for packaging material labelling
  • National packaging labelling schemes for waste sorting
  • Green Dot labelling
  • And much more