What are the packaging regulations?
Your business is required to comply with the Packaging (Essential Requirements) Regulations 2015 if you:
- Produce packaged goods
- Design, specify or produce packaging
- Pack or fill packaging to sell
- Import packaging or filled packaging
The purpose of these regulations is to minimise the amount of waste packaging created and to ensure that the packaging can be reused, recovered or recycled and applies to all (primary, secondary and transit) packaging.
If your business handles more than 50 tonnes of packaging in a calendar year and has a turnover of more than £2 million you are obligated to comply with producer responsibility obligations.
The obligations apply to the total amount of packaging that your business handles, not the amount of packaging waste that your business produces and is valid if you;
- Manufacture or convert the raw materials used to make packaging
- Fill packaging
- Supply packaged goods to the end user
- Lease or hire out packaging, such as pallets
- Import packaging, packaging materials or packaged goods into the UK
If you are an obligated company you can either join a compliance scheme or follow the individual route.
A registered packaging compliance scheme takes on your business' statutory recovery and recycling obligations by:
- Registering your business with the Environment Agency
- Carrying out your recovery and recycling obligations
- Providing electronic packaging recovery notes (ePRNs) and packaging export recovery notes (ePERNs) to the EA
- Reporting on compliance to the EA
To comply with your obligations as a packaging producer, you can calculate your own recycling and recovery requirements and register your company with the Environment Agency (EA). This is called the 'individual route' or 'direct registration'.
Assess how much packaging your business handles
To calculate your recovery and recycling obligations for the coming year, you need to assess:
- The amount and type of packaging your business handled and supplied in the last calendar year
- How you handled this packaging - manufacturing, filling, importing, etc
Make sure you include all the packaging that your business owns and handles, not just packaging waste that you produce.
You can use the National Packaging Waste Database to calculate your recovery and recycling obligations for each category of packaging material for the year. Find the UK National Packaging Waste Database on the Environment Agency website(link is external).
Register with the Environment Agency
You must register with EA by 7 April each year. If you carry out activities in more than one part of the UK, you must register with each relevant environmental regulator. You can register online through the UK National Packaging Waste Database.
You must pay an annual registration fee to cover administration and monitoring costs.
Submit an operational plan
If your recovery and recycling obligation is more than 500 tonnes, you must submit an operational plan to EA.
Recycle and recover packaging waste
Once you have calculated your obligation, you need evidence that the amount of packaging waste equivalent to your obligation has been recycled or recovered on your behalf. This evidence is in provided in the form of electronic packaging waste recovery notes (ePRNs) and electronic packaging waste export recovery notes (ePERNs).
You can make sure that your packaging waste is recycled by using:
- District council recycling collections
- Local community recycling organisations
- Commercial recycling contractors
Confirm you have met your recovery and recycling obligations
You must submit a certificate of compliance to the EA by 31 January each year.
Provide copies of evidence of compliance to support your certificate. This is done online using the National Packaging Waste Database.
The evidence you need to provide is in the form of:
- ePRNs - if they are issued by a UK reprocessor of packaging wastes
- ePERNs - if they are issued by a UK exporter of packaging wastes
There are separate ePRNs and ePERNs for each type of packaging waste.
Accredited reprocessors and exporters will normally charge a fee for ePRNs and ePERNs.
For more information see Packaging regulations guidance on the GOV.UK website(link is external)