Packaging Advice

UK Packaging Legislations. Is your business compliant?

4 mins

In the UK, legislations are constantly being reviewed by the government. Every single day new legislations are passed, making it a challenge to stay up to date with the latest laws.

For businesses purchasing and using packaging products to ship goods, it’s crucial you’re aware of the ever-changing policies in order to stay complaint. In this article, we list the latest UK packaging legislations, explain what they mean, and who they affect.

Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR)

SECR came into force on 1st April 2019 with the end of the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) Energy Efficiency Scheme. This legislation has required an estimated 11,900 companies incorporated in the UK to disclose of their energy and carbon emissions.

SECR is intended to encourage the implementation of energy efficiency measures, with both economic and environmental benefits, supporting companies in cutting costs and improving productivity while reducing carbon emissions.

Who needs to comply with SECR?

With the introduction of SECR, three groups of businesses have been affected. Companies that fit the following definitions must comply with the new regulations unless they meet certain criteria:

  1. Large Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs) are required to prepare and file an ‘Energy and Carbon Report’.
  2. Quoted companies that were before obliged to report under Mandatory Greenhouse Gas Reporting regulations.
  3. Unquoted companies in the UK that meet the definition of ‘large’ within the Companies Act 2006. This applies to both registered and unregistered companies.

For reference, unquoted companies or LLPs are defined as ‘large’ if they meet two or more of the following points within a reporting year:

  1. 250 employees or more.
  2. A turnover of £36 million or more.
  3. A balance sheet of £18 million or more.

Producer Responsibility Regulations

Also known as the ‘Packaging Waste Regulations’, this was first launched in 1997 in Great Britain and 1999 in Northern Ireland. These became the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations in 2007, which is the version that still stands today. The Producer Responsibility Regulations work in a way of collective responsibility. This means that all businesses producing or using packaging should contribute towards the cost of recycling and recovery.

Every year, an obligated packaging producer must:

  • Register as a packaging producer by 7th April
  • Meet their recovery and recycling obligation
  • Obtain evidence of compliance
  • Submit a certificate of compliance (Coc) by 31st January the following year

For customers at Swiftpak, obtaining and submitting evidence of compliance is easy. With just a few clicks from your account area, you can view a monthly breakdown of your paper, plastic, metal, and wood usage. From here, you can compare to last year’s usage and download your customised report with a chosen date range. Submitting your usage is straight forward with download Waste Reports from Swiftpak.

The PRN system

With the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations, a system was introduced for companies to represent the tonnage of packaging waste they have processes to a required standard. This is the Packaging Recovery Note (PRN) legislation.

This legislation places a PRN purchasing obligation on companies handling over 50 tonnes of packaging with turnovers over £2m.

What’s new with the PRN system?

The government released provisional figures for PRNs issued in the last quarter of 2018, showing a reduced amount in recycled paper, steel, and plastic. This sparked conversation around the PRN system, with the government now consulting on increasing the packaging recycling targets further in 2021 and 2022 to meet targets. It appears the government are looking to maximise the benefit of the current system before modifying in 2023, when a new legislation is likely to be introduced.

Plastic Packaging Tax (UK)

At Budget 2018, the government announced that it will introduce a world leading tax on plastic packaging from April 2022. This will encourage the use of recycled plastic instead of new plastic within packaging.

Plastic Packaging Tax will apply at a rate of £200 per tonne of plastic which does not contain at least 30% recycled plastic. This will be applied to plastic packaging which has been manufactured in or imported into the UK.

At Budget 2020, the government announced the following in response to feedback from the previous consultation:

  • Businesses that manufacture or import less than 10 tonnes of plastic packaging in a 12-month period will be exempt from the requirement to pay Plastic Packaging Tax.
  • The scope of Plastic Packaging Tax will be extended to include imported filled plastic packaging that does not contain at least 30% recycled plastic content. This is instead of just imports of unfilled plastic packaging.

To conclude

Legislations in packaging can be confusing at times, especially if you’re not up to date with the latest changes. Working out whether your business falls into certain categories, and if your businesses is, or is not complaint is crucial. You don’t want to fall into any legal matters.

For more information on the latest packaging legislations, keep an eye on our insights page. We’ll be releasing in-depth guides on the legislations mentioned above.