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A Guide To Packaging Waste

01 Mar 2019

In 1997, the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations were introduced, with the aim of reducing the amount of packaging waste ending up in UK landfills.

Under the regulation, any company or organisation using and/or producing any packaging or packaged products are legally required to report your usage. But what is ‘packaging’ waste? And how do these regulations impact your business? In this article, we look at why these regulations are in place, how it can impact your business and what your business needs to do in order to be compliant.

What is ‘packaging’?

Under the Producer Responsibility Obligations Regulations, packaging is defined as:

“Any material used to hold, protect, handle, deliver and present goods. This includes packaging for raw materials right through to finished goods to be sold or being sold. For example, pallets, boxes, bags, tape for wrapping, rolls, tubes and clothes hangers sold as part of the clothing item.

What are the Producer Responsibility Obligation Regulations ?

The Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations was the first piece of producer responsibility legislation in the UK.

Under the regulations, packaging producers are required to take full responsibility for their environmental impact. As part of reducing their environmental impact, UK producers are obligated to pay a proportion of the cost of recovering and recycling their packaging via the purchase of recycling evidence or certificates. This is otherwise known as Packaging Waste Recovery Notes (PRNs)

Why did these regulations come into place?

The aim of the regulations was, and still is, to control and reduce the amount of waste produced by UK companies and their impact on the environment. It also aims to ensure that essential packaging requirements are consistently met, and the use of heavy metals are reduced.

Who needs to report their packaging waste?

Any business, organisation or group of companies that handles in excess of 50 tonnes or more of packaging or packaging material each year, and has revenue of over £2 million.

What happens if the rules are breached?

Any business or organisation that is found to be non-compliant with these regulations can face both criminal and civil prosecutions.

Civil  sanctions have only recently been introduced (2011) with the aim of giving more options to the Environment Agency when dealing with non-compliant companies, in the shape of fines etc.

What does your business need to do?

Firstly, you must ensure that your company/organisation is properly registered with the appropriate environment agency. You will then need to complete the annual data submission form, detailing the amount of packaging handled.

Once you have completed these first two steps you can then use the Packaging Obligation Calculator to estimate your obligated recycling payments. It also important to remember to obtain any recycling evidence notes/certificates, also known as PRNs.

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