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What are packaging icons?

What are packaging icons?

Packaging icons, also known as sorting pictograms, are symbols printed on packaging to help consumers identify the appropriate waste stream for disposal. These icons serve as a quick visual reference for consumers to properly sort their waste. They also help to promote a more sustainable approach to waste management. The use of packaging icons has become increasingly popular across Europe, with many countries adopting their own unique set of icons.

Consumers have become increasingly aware of the impact that packaging has on the environment. Governments across the world are implementing various measures to promote sustainable packaging and waste management practices. One such measure is the use of packaging icons or pictograms to guide consumers on how to properly sort their waste. In this blog post, we will take a closer look at the packaging icons used in Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg and explore how companies can use them to promote sustainable packaging practices.

Regulations in Benelux

In Belgium, while there are no mandatory regulations for packaging icons, Fost Plus has developed a set of guidelines that companies can voluntarily follow. These guidelines provide companies with a recommended set of sorting icons to use on their packaging. However, this may change in the near future as the European Commission has proposed new regulations on packaging and packaging waste that would require companies to use mandatory sorting pictograms.

Style guide for on-pack icons in Belgium can be found here.

In the Netherlands, the government has implemented the “Weggooiwijzer“, a free waste sorting system that helps consumers identify the appropriate waste stream for disposal. The “Weggooiwijzer” uses icons to indicate where each component of the packaging should be disposed of. This system has been well-received by Dutch consumers and has helped to promote more sustainable waste management practices. The use of these icons is voluntary but strongly recommended.

Style guide for on-pack icons in The Netherlands can be found here.

In Luxembourg, the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Infrastructure is responsible for packaging regulations. The sorting pictograms used in Luxembourg are similar to those used in neighboring countries such as Belgium. These icons include a green bin for glass, a blue bin for paper and cardboard, a yellow bin for plastic and metal, and a brown bin for organic waste.

Importance of following Packaging Rules & Export

It is important for companies to follow the packaging rules and guidelines set by their respective countries. For example, if a Belgian company exports its products to Italy, it must adhere to Italian packaging regulations, which may require different sorting pictograms. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in fines and damage to a company’s reputation. Additionally, companies that prioritize sustainable packaging practices can attract environmentally-conscious consumers and enhance their brand image.

Greenflex also recommends companies to consider the proposed Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation in Europe. This regulation could soon require all businesses to adopt sorting pictograms on their packaging, which would be a major step forward in reducing packaging waste and promoting proper waste disposal. The implementation of these pictograms would have significant benefits for businesses, consumers, and the environment alike.

Benefits of sorting program


By making it easier for consumers to properly dispose of their waste, businesses can contribute to a cleaner and healthier environment.

Corporate Social Responsibility

By visibly displaying sorting pictograms on their packaging, businesses can show that they are taking concrete steps towards reducing their environmental impact.


Consumer related, sorting pictograms make it easier for consumers to properly dispose of packaging waste.

How Greenflex can help

Packaging icons are an effective tool in promoting sustainable packaging practices. With different regulations in different countries, it can be challenging for companies to comply to regulations of their respective countries. However, with the help of companies like Greenflex, businesses can promote sustainable packaging practices and comply with packaging regulations. By prioritizing sustainable packaging practices, companies can reduce their environmental impact, enhance their brand image, and contribute to a more sustainable future.

As an international expert in sustainable packaging solutions, Greenflex can assist companies in complying with waste management regulations and promoting sustainable packaging practices. Greenflex offers a range of solutions, including the design and implementation of packaging icons, to help companies meet the waste management regulations of their respective countries. By working with Greenflex, companies can reduce their environmental impact and improve their brand image.

Examples on the Benelux market.

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