The Triman is here to stay. Since 2015, it is mandatory to attach the Triman logo to household packaging, pursuant to Decree No 2014-1577 of 23 December 2014. Article L.541-9-3 of the French Environmental Code establishes the purpose of the Triman logo as to inform the consumer that the product is subject to sorting rules and to facilitate the recycling process, by providing further specifications on the procedures for sorting or bringing in the waste from the product.
What are the mandatory elements? The Triman Logo, which shall always be placed first and accompanied by sorting instructions for each material. These sorting instructions shall be included in an Info-tri tab, coloured according to the type of material: green for glass and yellow for all other materials, or alternatively black and white, regardless of the material.
Which packaging is subject to this obligation? All packaging of products placed on the market for households, covered by the Extended Producer Responsibility principle and listed in Article L.541-10-1 of the Environmental Code, with the exception of household glass beverage containers.
Moreover, we are nearing the end of the transition period. For household packaging, the end date of the period to sell existent stocks of products without the recycling label is 15 of June 2023, after postponement from the Ministry of Ecological Transition. From that date on, any packaging which is not compliant by not including, unless exempted from doing so by law, recycling signage can no longer be marketed in France.
One could argue that this requirement presents a hurdle to the free movement of goods, protected by the European Union. Hence, only with a justification could this obstacle stand (article 34 to 36 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union). Perhaps, if challenged, the French authorities would justify it on environmental protection. It is worth noting that France accepts recycling symbols via mutual recognition, pursuant to Article R.541-12-20 of Decree No 2021-835 of 29 June 2021, meaning that other mandatory markings regulated by either the EU or another Member State can be used instead of the Triman Logo and the sorting instructions, provided that they inform the consumers that the products concerned are subject to sorting rules.
Despite these issues, it is possible that a product which does not comply with the recycling requirements for France to be subject to administrative fines. Pursuant to Article L. 541-9-4 of the Environmental Code, the breach of this obligation may lead to a fine, not exceeding €3000 for natural persons and €15000 for legal entities.
In the absence of harmonization of labelling requirements in the European Union and of an applicable case-law on recycling symbols, it is unclear if a possible justification of these restrictions, based on environmental protection, would be valid. In the meantime, we await further developments.