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UK Packaging Legislation

If you place packaging onto the market, you are responsible for ensuring that it meets certain environmental standards.  If you place large amounts of packaging onto the market, you are also responsible for recovering and recycling the packaging waste that you create.

There are two sets of UK packaging regulations that you may need to comply with:

The Packaging (Essential Requirements) Regulations apply to you if your business;
• Produce packaged products
• Design, specify or produce packaging
• Pack or fill packaging to sell
• Claim to have packed or filled packaging by putting your brand or trademark on the packaging
• Import packaging or filled packaging

You must follow the regulations by:
• Not exceeding limits on concentrations of certain heavy metals such as lead, cadmium and mercury in your packaging
• Using the minimum packaging necessary
• Producing packaging that can be reused, recovered or recycled
• Keeping records for four years as evidence that you are complying

In addition to meeting the Packaging (Essential Requirements) Regulations, you must also comply with the duty of care for waste. This is your legal responsibility to ensure that you produce, store, transport and dispose of controlled waste without harming the environment.

You must;
• Store and transport waste appropriately and securely
• Check that waste is handled and transported by people that are authorised to do so
• Complete waste transfer notes to document all waste that you transfer and keep a record for at least two years

The Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations apply to you if your business handles more than 50 tonnes of packaging in a year and has a turnover of more than £2 million (based on previous financial year). The obligations apply to the total amount of packaging that your business handles not the amount of packaging waste produced.

The packaging regulations will affect you if your business or someone acting on your behalf; 
• Manufacture the raw materials used to make packaging
• Convert raw materials into packaging
• Fill packaging
• Supply packaged goods to the end user
• Lease or hire out packaging e.g. pallets
• Operate a franchise or other licensed business
• Import packaging, packaging materials or packaged goods into the UK
• Bring transit packaging into the UK that will end up as waste in the UK

To follow the obligations you must;
• Register with your environmental regulator
• Pay for the recovery and recycling of a certain amount of packaging waste
• Provide you environmental regulator with evidence that you have met your obligations

There are three ways to comply with the regulations;
• Join a registered compliance scheme
• Calculate and fulfil your own obligations
• Use the ‘allocation method’ if your turnover is £2–5 million

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