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Bare essential guide to the latest packaging changes

Packaging producers are (or should be!) aware of all the work they do to comply by the Packaging Waste regulations. But how much do you know about the sister piece of legislation, the Packaging Essential Requirements Regulations? 

What are they? Well, the Essential Requirements, originally introduced in 1998, are more concerned with the packaging you place onto the market and come from the same Directive as the Packaging Waste Regulations.

To summarise the requirements, they are, according to the guidance:

  • Packaging volume and weight must be the minimum amount to maintain the necessary levels of safety, hygiene and acceptance for the packed product and for the consumer.

  • Packaging must be manufactured so as to permit reuse or recovery in accordance with specific requirements.

  • Noxious or hazardous substances in packaging must be minimised in emissions, ash or leachate from incineration or landfill.

So what do I need to know?

Recently there have been changes made to these regulations, and these are due to come into effect on the 1 October 2015.

We have captured the key things you might need to know, and put them into one handy guide for you.

Some of the significant amendments to the Essential Requirements regulations are:

  • Retain a clearer definition of packaging in line with Packaging (Waste) Regulations
  • Clearer wording of what the Essential Requirements requires
  • Introduces a blanket 100ppm limit on regulated metal concentrations (cadmium, mercury, lead and hexavalent chromium)
  • Retain exemption for lead crystal glass, plastic crates or pallets in closed loop subject to Schedule 2, or glass packaging subject to Schedule 3
  • Introduction of regional statutory limitation on penalties that can be imposed (differing between NI, GB, Scotland)
  • Clearer wording to allow prosecution of an individual, as well as a body corporate or Scottish partnership
  • Secretary of State to review the performance and penalties comparable to the rest of Europe, and then publish a report within 5 years of release
  • Clearer wording on reusable requirements
  • Change reference from 'Community' to 'European Union' reflecting Directive coverage of all member states
  • Schedule 4 updated to include enforcement bodies; National Measurement and Regulation Office for GB, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment for Northern Ireland
  • Schedule 6 contains a revocation of all previous Regulations
  • An explanatory note of the consolidated and updated Regulations

Do I need to do anything?

Apart from ensuring that you do not breach the key requirements listed above you do not need to do anything immediate. If you are unsure if your company is complying with them, don’t hesitate to get in contact, and one of our packaging specialists will be happy to chat to you. 

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