Who is PRO EUROPE?

List of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)



Answers to the questions


Who is PRO EUROPE?

PRO EUROPE s.p.r.l. (Packaging Recovery Organisation Europe), founded in 1995, is the European umbrella organisation for the packaging and packaging waste recovery systems which mainly use the "Green Dot" trade mark at a national level. 


Who are PRO EUROPE’s members and why were they established?

PRO EUROPE’s members span 31 countries: (Austria, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Macedonia, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Turkey, UK)

PRO EUROPE’s members in Europe were established as a direct response to the EU’s 1994 Directive on packaging and packaging waste. This Directive requires Member States to ensure that “systems” open to the participation of economic operators are created for the collection and recovery of packaging waste. This Directive is also applied in member countries of the EEA as well as in all accession countries to the EU.

In the majority of these countries, the Directive has been implemented through ‘producer responsibility’ systems set up to assume packaging waste collection and recovery responsibilities on behalf of the industry. 


What are the tasks of PRO EUROPE and its members?

PRO EUROPE s.p.r.l. (PACKAGING RECOVERY ORGANISATION EUROPE), founded in 1995, is the umbrella organisation for European packaging and packaging waste recovery and recycling schemes which mainly use the "Green Dot" trademark as a financing symbol. In its primary role, PRO EUROPE is the general licensor of the "Green Dot" trademark. 

The main task of PRO EUROPE’s members is to organise the efficient implementation of adequate national collection and recovery systems, mostly for sales and household packaging. In this way, industrial companies and commercial enterprises are relieved of their individual obligation to take back used sales packaging. The aim is to ensure the recovery and recycling of packaging waste in the most economically efficient and ecologically sound manner.


What are the benefits of signing an agreement with a PRO EUROPE member?  

The company which signs an agreement with a PRO EUROPE member is relieved of its individual obligation to take back and/or to recycle used sales packaging through the operation of a scheme which fulfils these obligations on a nation-wide basis on its behalf. The company has the guarantee that its recycling obligations are fulfilled in that country in an economically efficient and ecologically sound manner. In addition, the company may also receive the right to place the ‘Green Dot’ logo on its packaging (see next question for the meaning of the Green Dot). 


Who usually signs an agreement with a PRO EUROPE member?

In general, for packaged products which are filled in the country of distribution, the filling company is the one obliged by the respective national packaging legislation and the one that signs up with the respective packaging recovery organisation.

For packaged products imported into a certain country, it is the importer which generally signs the agreement with the recovery organisations. For example, it is usual that the national legislation on packaging places the responsibility for collection and recycling of packaging, at least on the first distributor of the packaged product in the respective market, i.e. the first importer, meaning the company with the first legal seat in a country.

However, as each system varies, it is recommended that you check directly with the PRO EUROPE member organisation operating in the countries in which you market your packaged products for more detailed guidance. In some countries, such as the UK, the obligation can fall on more than one party.

PRO EUROPE members do not in general sign contracts with companies which are not based within the European Union because of the administrative burden associated. As explained above, in many cases where a non European company exports packaged products to European countries, it is the responsibility of its local importer to fulfil the recycling obligations and it can do this by joining the respective system in this country. If the importer joins a Green Dot scheme, it will receive a licence for the use of the Green Dot for all packaged products intended for this respective country. It can then inform the producer to label all packaging for this country with the Green Dot symbol.


What is the ‘Green Dot’ symbol and what does it mean?

The ‘Green Dot’ is the financing symbol for the organisation of recovery, sorting and recycling of sales packaging. When you see the ‘Green Dot’ on packaging it means that for such packaging, a financial contribution has been paid to a qualified national packaging recovery organisation, set up in accordance with the principles defined in EU Directive 94/62 on packaging and packaging waste and the respective national laws.

‘Green Dot’ systems have become internationally recognized models that contribute to the efficient fulfilment of the EU Directive on packaging and packaging waste, and the successful implementation of producer responsibility by the companies involved.

However, in some countries where a Green Dot system is not operating, and as the symbol such does not mean that the relevant company/companies in this country have contributed to the recycling of packaging, the symbol is still a registered trademark and a licence fee should be paid for its use to the relevant organisation which holds the rights to it.

Today, the ‘Green Dot’ is the most widely used trade mark in the world. More than 170,000 companies are licensees of the ‘Green Dot’ trade mark, while over 460 billion packaging items have been labelled with the symbol.


Is it mandatory for all companies putting packed products on the European market to label the Green Dot logo on its packaging?

There is not such a general obligation. There are currently four countries in which use of the Green Dot on packaging is mandatory. These countries are Cyprus, Greece, Portugal, and Spain. In all other “Green Dot” countries, you have to ensure a contract with the relevant organisations if you want to use the Green Dot.

Please note that you are obliged to fulfill the national legislations in each “Green Dot” country you sell your packed products to.

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Which European countries are not using the Green Dot?

Among the EU countries, Italy, the Netherlands, Denmark, the UK and Finland are not using the Green Dot symbol.  The Italian packagaging recovery scheme, CONAI and the Dutch packaging recovery scheme use no symbol at all. In Denmark and Hungary, a packaging tax is applied and Finland uses the symbol (PYR).

In the UK as well as in the NAFTA area, the symbol does not demonstrate a financial contribution to the recovery of packaging in these respective countries but is used under licence by companies placing packed products on the UK respective the Nafta market in addition to other (often English speaking) European markest, such as The Republic of Ireland. It is recognised that although the symbol bears not the usual meaning in the UK and in NAFTA, it is often more environmentally friendly to use the same packaging design in multiple destinations.


Different systems exist in some countries in which PRO EUROPE does not have member organisations. Denmark applies a packaging tax and Switzerland has special systems for each material. 


If a company wants to use the Green Dot on its products and sells it on the European Market, is there a one stop shop to sign an agreement? 

No, the company in question has to sign, via its local importer, an agreement with the respective green dot system in each country. 


If a company has an agreement with a local recycling company which is not a ‘Green Dot‘ organisation, is it still possible to put the Green Dot on its packaging?

If a company is using the Green Dot on its packaging and is fulfilling its recycling obligation in a certain country by using another authorised recycling solution, it may use the Green Dot on the packaging but should sign a separate contract for the use of the trademark with the national Green Dot organisation or licence holder.


If a company has signed an agreement with a PRO EUROPE member using the ’Green Dot’, does it have the obligation to place it on its packaging?

In Portugal, Spain, France, Greece and Cyprus it is mandatory by contract or by law to use the logo of the authorized system on the packaging: As in all these countries a Green Dot scheme exists, the Green Dot is to be put on the household packaging distributed in these countries. However, exemptions exist for companies which can provide a justification. Moreover, this obligation to print the ‘Green Dot’ logo does in general not apply for secondary and tertiary packaging.

In all the other countries in which PRO EUROPE’s members are active, the use of the ‘Green Dot’ is entirely voluntary.

 

What does it cost for a company to enter into an agreement with a PRO EUROPE member and be able to use the ‘Green-dot‘ symbol?

There are several factors affecting fee levels which should be taken into account when comparing the relative costs of compliance across various European schemes.
Major factors influencing relative compliance costs include the following:

  • Existing collection and recovery infrastructure in the waste management sector
  • The source of packaging waste used to meet national recycling quotas (household only or all packaging). Household packaging waste is usually more expensive to collect and recover than packaging waste arising in the commercial sector
  • The proportionate share of costs which industry bears. Some schemes meet 100% cost of collection and recovery, while others can rely on other sources of income.
  • National recycling quotas and the effect of derogations
  • The collection system used. "Bring" systems are in general less expensive than kerbside collection.
  • Geographic location and population density. Remote and sparsely populated regions will generally be more difficult and expensive to cover.
  • Enforcement regimes influence costs. The more companies who participate in the scheme, the greater the spread of the cost base.
  • Country specific labour costs and general overheads.

If the company decides to use another authorized recycling solution but signs a separate contract for the use of the Green Dot with the local ‘Green Dot’ organisation, the fee to be paid will only concern the licence of the trade mark.

Please have a look at the list of license fees per organisation http://www.pro-europe.info/License_fees.html


My company is labelling all packaged products with the Green Dot as we are using one kind of packaging for international distribution. What do I have to do for countries outside Europe?


Every company is able to use the Green Dot on packaging, even if they are distributed outside Europe. PRO EUROPE is offering a royalty-free world-wide licence agreement which can be downloaded here: http://www.pro-e.org/Trademark_issues.html. It covers nearly all countries outside Europe with the exception of the NAFTA area (US, Canada and Mexico); for those 3 countries a special agreement with our Canadian member is necessary.
For further details, please go to http://www.pro-e.org/Canada1.htm

 


PRO EUROPE s.p.r.l. (Packaging Recovery Organisation Europe), founded in 1995, is the European umbrella organisation for the packaging and packaging waste recovery systems which mainly use the "Green Dot" trade mark at a national level. PRO EUROPE acts as the authoritative voice and common policy platform for its members and protects their interests.