Packaging Waste Regulations In The UK
by Sumona Business Development 30 January 2023
The deadline to register your business for the Producer Responsibility Obligation is April 2023. This applies if you have a turnover of more than £2 million and produce, sell or use packaging products in the UK. Here we go into more detail about the packaging waste regulations in the UK to ensure your business remains fully compliant.
What are the packaging waste regulations in the UK?
The packaging waste regulations were first introduced in 1997 (1999 in Northern Ireland) and eventually evolved into the Producer Responsibilities Obligations Regulations 2007, which remains in place today.
The regulations are based on collective responsibility, meaning that every business that produces or uses packaging must contribute toward the cost of it being recycled and recovered. This led to the introduction of the Packaging Recovery Note system which is designed to ensure that a fair proportion of packaging recovery and recycling costs are paid for by relevant businesses.
- Manufacturers of raw materials are responsible for 6% of recovery and recycling
- Material converters are responsible for 9% of recovery and recycling
- 37% of recovery and recycling is to be covered by packers and fillers
- Lastly, sellers are deemed to be responsible for 48% of recovery and recycling
How do the packaging waste regulations work?
If your business qualifies for the regulations, there will be a set of annual recycling targets that will need to be met. These will be linked to the type and weight of packaging you produce or use.
You will also need to register with appropriate authorities (this can also be outsourced to a third party to manage) before submitting data about the type and weight of packaging you use or produce.
The targets will define the volume of tonnes your business is responsible for, and your business must commit to recycling an equal amount of the material specified. You can use Packaging Recovery Notes (PRNs) to provide information about the recycling to confirm the targets are being met.
PRNs can be purchased from accredited providers who will be able to recycle your material. They can also be used to export packaging materials.
Who are the appropriate authorities?
Businesses operating in the regions below must register with the relevant agencies:
- England – The Environment Agency (EA)
- Scotland – The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA)
- Wales – The Natural Resources Body for Wales (NRW)
- Northern Ireland – Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA)
How do I know if my business must comply with the packaging waste regulations?
If you are unsure if your business is affected by the packaging waste regulations, you can use the following points as a guideline:
- Turnover that exceeds at least £2 million per year
- Your business has handled more than 50 tonnes of packaging in the past 12 calendar months
Your business must follow the regulatory guidelines if both of the above are true. However, if one or neither of the above are not relevant to your business, then the packaging waste regulations are not applicable.
How to get more from your packaging machinery
Buying packaging machinery [GS1] is a big investment and a decision that needs to be carefully thought through. Not only do you have to consider its efficiency in terms of speed, but bearing in mind the waste regulations, you also must consider its environmental impact.
Reducing waste will have both a financial and environmental impact, so factor in the following when looking at your options:
- Check that the exact amount of film, tape, or shrink wrap is cut to reduce the amount of waste produced.
- See if the machine will allow you to use a more environmentally friendly material, such as replacing full plastic shrink wrap with recyclable shrink wrap.
- Bear in mind the amount of energy the machine will use, as this will affect your carbon footprint and will also increase or decrease your energy bills.
- You can also use measuring devices to check how much energy, gas, and water your machine would use.
Whether it’s a semi-automatic, fully automatic, or chamber packaging shrink wrap machine, Kempner’s packaging machine solutions are designed to ensure you meet your requirements, whether it’s based on volume, pack, budget, or speed of production.
Transform your product packaging
Kempner is always looking for ways to evolve and update our sustainable packaging solutions, utilizing decades of industry experience to ensure our customers have some of the best products on the market. We offer compostable shrink wrap and a host of environmentally friendly options that could be just the change you are looking for. Get in touch with our team today to find out more