What are the packaging waste regulations?

Every year England generates around 177 million tonnes of waste, costing businesses and homes millions of pounds.

Additionally, the waste is also damaging to the environment, with great amounts of methane being emitted from landfills all over the country.

Much of the waste that we produce comes from the packaging used to store every day foods, goods and appliances.

The Government defines packaging as any material that is used to hold, protect, handle, deliver and present goods.

What is an obliged producer of packaging?

An obliged producer of packaging is a single business or a group of companies that handles more than 50 tonnes of packing materials, or a company that has a turnover of £2 million per year (based on the last year’s financial accounts).

Using the table below, the Government defines handling as a company that owns the packaging on the activities that are carried out or one that supplies packaging at any stage in the chain or one that carries out one or more of the activities below.

Checking your status

It is important to work out whether your business or organisation handles over 50 tonnes – not including packaging or packing material that is exported to give to someone else to export. Though this must be proven.

Companies with one or more subsidiary are classed as a single group and all the yearly turnovers and packing weights must be combined to check whether this would class the group as an obligated packaging producer.

A small packaging producer is a business that has a turnover between £2 million and £5 million or a company that has less than £2 million but is part of a company that is classed under the group obligation.

A recycling obligation is based on the nearest £10,000 and the main packaging material that is handled, not the weight of packaging handled. A company must provide proof of turnover or a set of audited accounts.

Why must a company follow packing regulations?

To help follow the regulations, it is important that all obliged companies reduce the amount of packaging used, reduce how much of it goes to landfill, and increase how much is both recycled and recovered.

Obliged companies must also register as a packing producer ever year – this will also provide you with the producer obligation.

How to register as a packaging producer

A business must register with an environmental regulator by joining a compliance scheme or by registering directly in the National Packaging Waste Database (NPWD).

Companies can select from approved compliance schemes here.

By joining a scheme, it will (for a fee), register your company with the correct environmental regulator and assist you with any waste packaging regulations that you are obliged to follow.

In order to register with the environmental regulator directly, you will need to register with the address of the business’ head office.

What are the charges for registering as a producer?

Charges for direct registration:

  • Producer: £776
  • Small producer: £562

A group charge stands at £776 plus:

  • £180 for the first four subsidiaries
  • £90 each for the next five to 20 subsidiaries
  • £45 thereafter

The fees are different for companies that join compliance schemes.

Are there packaging penalties of obliged companies?

If a company fails to meet its legal obligations or provides false or misleading information, it could face prosecution under criminal law. There are also civil penalties in England and Wales, including:

  • Fixed penalty fines for minor offences
  • Higher fines for serious offences
  • An enforcement undertaking

Companies that join a compliance scheme after the registration deadline (31 January), will be forced to pay an additional fee of £100.