What are Packaging Waste Regulations? Does your business need to comply?
Packaging Waste Regulations and what does your business need to do to comply?
You may not be aware of the Producer Responsibility Regulations, also known as the Packaging Waste Regulations. This article explains the regulations, how to check if they affect you, and what to do.
What are the Packaging Waste Regulations?
The regulations work on the principle of collective responsibility. This means all businesses that produce or use packaging should contribute towards the cost of recycling and recovery. The Packaging Waste Regulations aim to limit the amount of packaging that ends up in landfills.
Is your business affected by the Waste Regulations?
There are two main criteria that determine whether your business needs to comply.
- Did your last set of accounts report a turnover exceeding £2 million? This must include any subsidiaries if you are a group.
- Did your company or group of companies handle more than 50 tonnes of packaging in the last calendar year?
If you answer yes to both above, you must adhere to the packaging regulations; if you answered no to either or both questions, you do not need to comply at this stage.
There are two important definitions to consider:
“Packaging” is any item used for the containment of goods. It also covers handling, delivery and/or presentation of goods, e.g., outer cases or pallet wrap used in the transit from the producer to the retailer and onto the consumer.
“Handling” packaging covers any packaging placed onto the UK market, i.e., packaging materials used by businesses around products it supplies, including imports, but does not include exports.
Any packaging used only internally within your business does not count under this definition; this can include packaging such as supply chain totes or line-side kitting trays.
For a more detailed checklist, please refer to the government website.
Who is responsible?
Different business types qualify under the Packaging Waste Regulations:
- Raw material and packaging manufacturers: including manufacturers and converters of the corrugated cardboard material used to make boxes.
- Packer / Filler: this is most likely your business; it covers the company that fills the box with a specific product for transit or delivery.
- Seller/ Retailer: this would be the retailer, for example, a supermarket, that would sell the product and packaging to the end-user/consumer.
How do the Packaging Waste Regulations work?
- Any business that qualifies must meet a recycling target; these use annual figures that relate to the type and weight of packaging used and/or produced.
- Register with the appropriate authorities (or outsource to a third party); they must provide data covering the weight and packaging type used.
- A set of targets; defined by the Government are then applied; this determines the amount in tonnes your business is responsible for. Businesses commit to recycling an equal volume of the specific material; to do this, they provide evidence of their recycling via Packaging Recovery Notes (PRNs).
- Businesses buy PRNs from accredited recycling companies; these reprocess the specific materials your business handles.
- Businesses also use a similar system for exporting packaging material using Packaging Export Recovery Notes (PERNs).
What do you need to do if you meet the producer responsibility obligations?
To register your business; follow the packaging waste regulations.
You can decide to register yourself with the appropriate Environment Agency directly, or you can do so through a scheme; provided by a third-party company, either way, you must do so by April 7th each year.
The notes above are meant as guidance only, for further information and full details of compliance please refer to the Government Website.
Another source of information is the Environment Agency Site.
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