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Companies that produce, use or sell packaged goods are obligated to follow packaging waste regulations set out by the UK government. These regulations are in place to reduce the packaging waste that ends up in landfill and ensures packaging fulfils the essential requirements.

Plastic packaging waste process

There are three sets of regulations in place, two dating from 2007; The Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations, and The Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations (Northern Ireland) and the other, The Packaging (Essential Requirements) Regulations  implemented in 2015. In this guide, we will be giving a brief overview of the regulations and the basics that companies need to be aware of.

Who is Affected

The regulations currently in place affect any organisation that owns and supplies packaging. This includes companies which handle more than 50 tonnes of packaging material each year, and companies that handle the materials and machinery for it. The 2015 regulations affect those companies which put packaging into the UK market, or import packed or filled packaging.

What Companies Need to Do

One of the first steps detailed in the 2007 Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations is that businesses must register with the appropriate environment agency. In England, it is The Environment Agency, in Wales, the Natural Resources Body for Wales and in Scotland, The Scottish Environment Protection Agency.

Once registered, companies must complete an annual data submission, which details the type and amount of packaging you have handled, calculating the number of tonnes of packaging waste. This waste must be financed by the company to recover and recycle it correctly, and evidence of recycling then given to the relevant environment agency.

In accordance with the Packaging (Essential Requirements) Regulations from 2015, organisations and businesses must meet the requirements regarding minimising packaging volume and weight, but meeting the necessary packaging amount to maintain hygiene, safety and acceptance of consumer. The packaging must also be able to be recovered or reused at the end of its life, and organisations must also minimise the use of hazardous substances in packaging.


Failing to meet the legal obligations or sharing false or misleading evidence on packaging waste may lead to penalties or criminal prosecution. These include fines for minor offences or higher fines for serious offences.

For more information on packaging for your business, take a look at our previous blog posts, and browse through the packaging solutions we provide at Kempner, from shrink wrap film to the machinery needed.