Packaging Waste

Understanding packaging responsibilities in 2017

3 mins

Updates to the Packaging waste obligations were made on 15th December 2016, have they changed your obligations?

Throughout 2016 we saw a renewed focus from consumers and regulating authorities on environmental responsibilities, helped along by a number of high-profile campaigns. As we move into the new year it’s a good idea to revisit regulations and obligations to ensure you are doing your best to responsibly package and deliver your products.

Packaging responsibilities and regulations exist to ensure that the amount of waste material sent to landfill is consistently being reduced. This duty of care is predominantly achieved by reducing the amount of packaging produced in the first place and increasing the amount of packaging waste that is recycled or recovered.

Not many Christmases go by without a little controversy surrounding one or two retailers and 2016 was no different. This year it was the turn of the online retailers - and the concern was packaging. Over-packing to be precise. In the era of digital communication and social media, retailers can hardly afford to look irresponsible, especially those who rely on online orders to thrive.

Packaging responsibilities in 2017

So far packaging responsibilities in 2017 look very similar to previous years. A quick glance on the environmental management area of shows that no major developments were added to packaging waste producer responsibilities in the latest update on 15 December 2016.

However UK government recycling target percentages have increased for a number of materials including steel (75% to 76%) and plastic (49% to 51%).

Customer information obligations

Producers who sell packaged goods have responsibilities to ensure that their customers understand how the packaging they receive can be recycled or recovered in order to give them the best chance of meeting recovery responsibilities. This must include details of any recovery services or systems that they can use, iteration of their own role and responsibility in recycling and reducing packaging waste, and information that explains what symbols mean.

This information is important as it gives our packaging the best chance of being repurposed and minimising environmental impact. It is also an opportunity for you as a responsible producer to iterate to your consumers how your brand is sustainably focused. It can help lend your brand a positive image that shows you care about your responsibilities.

What this means for packaging solutions

We can expect this year that packaging solutions that have similar materials that are able to be recycled/repurposed in the same way will become popular with end users.

While transit and secondary packaging may not seem to play a huge part in the image of your brand in relation to its importance in limiting transit damage, packaging producers have an obligation to ensure that materials are being handled correctly at the other end.

When recycling processes are both simple and adequately explained to consumers they are most likely to succeed.