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Packaging compliance – nearly 20 years old but still a mystery

It has nearly been 20 years since the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations came into force in the UK. So you’d think everyone would know about them?

It may come as a surprise then that on a weekly basis, UK companies are only just discovering them – either by our contact, their own due diligence or being approached by the Environment Agency. Some of these businesses aren’t even new. Many have been around long before the regulations and have been exceeding the required thresholds for many years.

So why the lack of awareness?

There are a few common misunderstandings that businesses have about the regulations which often leads them to think it does not apply to them. Firstly, the title of the regulations themselves - “Packaging Waste”. The biggest misconception here is that businesses read this as “I must be compliant for my waste packaging because I recycle at my site”. They simply don’t read into the detail of the regulations to understand the true nature of what “packaging waste” is referring to.

“There are many businesses that form part of the packaging supply chain within the UK and it’s not just those at the very end that need to comply.

Another common error is that "The regulations only affect those who are retailing to consumers”, without taking into consideration the journey of secondary and transit packaging – which also needs to be captured.

Lack of public communication doesn’t help

These misunderstandings are then exacerbated by the general lack of publication and communication, particularly by regulatory bodies. How do you know about something you don’t know about? Part of our remit as a Producer Compliance Scheme is to contact businesses to make them aware of their potential legal requirements. However, when this is the first time they’ve heard about this well-established law, it can be the beginning of a very long journey.

Through our supportive and tailored approach, we have helped many businesses over the last two decades understand their requirements, collate the required data and ultimately ensure they are compliant every year. 

If the regulations are new to your business and you want expert support, simply get in touch and we can guide you seamlessly through it all.

Keeping a finger on the pulse of future changes

Once registered, it’s important to note that the change doesn’t stop there. Every few years or so the regulations are updated. In fact the regulations have only recently been in consultation and we’re expecting updates soon, in particular with regard to plastic packaging.

Typically targets are revised upwards as the UK strives to improve recycling rates year on year. The good news is, we work very closely with the stakeholders at the heart of these consultations to influence where needed and to represent the views of our members.

You can keep on top of the latest changes with:

  • Free webinar updates – bitesized online presentations to keep you up to date with the latest developments
  • On site seminars – we also offer bespoke seminars to groups of individuals at your premises, tailored to your needs
  • E-updates – receive email alerts with the latest updates (please see the sign up form on this page)

If you feel that this is something that is potentially affecting your business, do get in touch and we can provide a packaging regulations assessment. It’s what we are here for, after all.

To find out more please email matthew@ecosurety.com or call us on 0845 094 2228.


James Piper

Managing director

James joined in July 2009 as the marketing account manager. Now managing director, James combines his past market experience and the work undertaken directly with companies to ensure all Ecosurety members benefit from the best possible price and expertise. In 2016 James won the Institute of Directors South West Young Director of the Year award and the Business Leader Rising Star Award.  In 2017 he has been shortlisted for an edie Sustainability Leader Awardwon Business Green Leaders Award and featured in the Resource magazine annual top 100 list of the most influential people working in the waste industry.


Written by James Piper Published 23/07/2015 Topics Compliance

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