Your Obligations - Packaging Waste Compliance in the UK
Minimising the creation of packaging
The Packaging Directive’ is concerned with minimising the creation of packaging waste material and promotes energy recovery, re-use and recycling of packaging. The UK meets the Directive’s recycling and recovery targets for packaging waste through the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations (SI 2007 No 871) (as amended) -generally referred to as the ‘Packaging Waste Regulations’. Responsibility for these sits with the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).
The UK system works by requiring companies above the threshold of a £2million annual turnover, and handling more than 50 tonnes of packaging a year (producers) to pay for a certain proportion of the UK obligation to recycle packaging.
Industry compliance schemes
Organisations can join a compliance scheme such as Sustain to deal with their obligation or alternatively they may directly register and report to the enforcement authorities: the Environment Agency (in England), Natural Resources Wales (Wales), Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Scotland) or Northern Ireland Environment Agency (Northern Ireland). Organisations can fulfil their obligation by acquiring Packaging Waste Recovery Notes (PRNs) or Packaging Waste Export Recovery Notes (PERNs). PRNs can only be issued by reprocessors of packaging waste once accredited to do so by the enforcement authorities.
Availability of PRNs can fluctuate due to demand for the notes in relation to the supply of recycled material; the UK recycling targets set for that year; and the amount of PRNs/PERNs companies or schemes already purchased. PERNs are issued for the export of packaging waste to approved reprocessors overseas.
The targets for 2014 – 2017 are in place (pending final Regulatory amendment); we are currently expecting further consultation for targets beyond the current year.