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About the recycling mark

Food labeling is required for containers and packaging, but similarly, when using containers and packaging of the applicable material, it is necessary to display the "identification mark", the so-called recycling mark. Containers and packaging" are the "containers" including bottles, cans, and bags, which contain products, and the "packaging" including packaging papers and wrapping films, which wrap products. They become useless after the products are consumed or taken out from them.

The identification mark is stipulated by Act on the Promotion of Effective Utilization of Resources, and the following are the identification marks related to food and the containers on which the marks require to be labelled.

Identification mark Material / Shape Purpose of use
Plastic containers and packaging Plastic containers and packaging Excluding PET bottles for beverages, liquors, and specific seasonings
Paper containers and packaging Paper containers and packaging
(Including paper packs using aluminum for beverages and liquor)
Excluding paper packs that do not use aluminum for beverages and liquor, and corrugated cardboard containers and packaging
PET bottle PET bottle For beverages, liquors, and specific seasonings
Steel can Steel can For beverages and liquors
Aluminum can Aluminum can For beverages and liquors

As a general rule, the identification label must be displayed directly on each separable container and packaging, and in containers and packaging with multiple layers consisting of "cups" and "lids", each separable container and packaging is considered as a separate container or packaging. As a rule, the identification mark is displayed directly on each container and packaging to be displayed.
However, if there are multiple containers and packaging of a product that are usually discarded at the almost same time, they can be collectively labeled on one of the containers and packaging, and at that time, the role name of each container and packaging such as "cup", "lid", etc., together with the identification mark must be displayed.

We would recommend that you check "Basic Concepts on Containers and Packaging" to see if the ones used are considered as containers and packaging to need to carry the marks.
For example, the straw itself attached to the beverage pack is not considered as container and packaging, so no identification mark is required, but for straw bags, the straw is considered as part of the product and the identification mark is needed as wrapping the product.

I suppose our readers are handling a various types of containers and packaging, so I would like to introduce some of the examples which are often referred to from "FAQ regarding the labeling of identification mark for packaging materials".

Regarding the material labeling such as "PP, PE" attached to the plastic mark

(Q76) What is the material labeling?

Answer:
The material labeling is to indicate the type of plastic, etc. used in plastic containers and packaging. Unlike the identification label, the material labeling has no legal obligation, but it is recommended.

(Q77) Please tell me how to indicate the material labeling.

Answer:
It is recommended to use the symbols specified in JIS K 6899-12000 (ISO 1043-11997) to indicate the material of plastic containers and packaging. In addition, for composite materials and composite elements, it is recommended to indicate two or more material names including the main constituent material, and underline the main constituent material. (the rest omitted)

Regarding identification mark

(Q16) If a label is put on a container and packaging, is it necessary to include the identification mark of the label itself?

Answer:
The label is considered as a part of the container or packaging to which it is attached, so basically no identification mark is required, even if the label is made of paper or plastic.
However, if both of the following two conditions are met, the label is considered as a material for "wrapping", so in that case, the label itself needs to be identified.

  • An area of label is more than 1/2 of that of the whole of containers and packaging
  • The label can be easily separated from the labeled container and packaging and discarded.
    e.g.) Plastic label attached to PET bottle, body label wrapped around plate-shaped chocolate (paper wrapped around aluminum foil), etc.

Regarding products for business use

(Q87) Is it necessary to display the identification mark on containers and packaging for business use?

Answer:
No identification mark is required for containers and packaging for business use. Containers and packaging of products that businesses exclusively consume in their business activities are not subject to the obligation to recycling obligation and are not subject to mandatory labeling. Putting identification mark on any products which are not subject to mandatory labeling can cause confusion and must be avoided labeling.

If you have purchased and used ready-made containers and packaging, some of them may already have the identification mark. We would be grateful if you could refer to this article for your reconfirmation on the containers and packaging of currently in use or of any packages that will be created in the future.

References:
Basic concept of containers and packaging
FAQ regarding the labeling of identification mark for packaging materials

November 2020