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The Packaging & Packaging Waste Directive: An Overview

The Packaging & Packaging Waste Directive: An Overview

The Packaging & Packaging Waste Directive

The EU and UK have collaborated and agreed to enforce provisions stated in the more environmentally responsible Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive. Under terms of the directive manufacturers must take a more proactive position in helping to reduce the environmental hazards of the product they manufacture and distribute.

One area of concentration of the EU – UK Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive requires packaging waste to be minimised through a series of initiatives including better recovery and re-use standards. The UK and its manufacturers are obligated to comply with the goals and quantitative targets set forth in the ambitious directive.

There are significant financial and legal penalties for providers who fail to meet the standards. Several sizeable financial and criminal penalties have already been levied against firms who have shown to be non-compliant. If you want to manufacture polythene products in the UK, you must be prepared to comply with the directive or expect serious financial and punitive penalties. The goal of responsible manufacturing partners is clearly to continue to put out more environmentally responsible products with longer term sustainability.

No Longer Business As Usual

The directive is clear that it will no longer be business as usual. Producer responsibility is designed to ensure “that businesses involved in the manufacturing, importing and selling of certain products are held responsible for those products when they become waste.”

The Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive has preset targets and companies that have an annual turnover of £2 million or more and who handle 50 tonnes of packaging or more in a year must comply and meet the stated targets. This represents a significantly higher standard or transparency and accountability than has been enforced previously. All these entities are obligated to pay a portion of the UK recycling and re-use obligation.

Responsible organisations can join in an existing and structured compliance scheme or can directly register with enforcement authorities like the Environment Agency, Scottish Environmental Protection Agency or Environment & Heritage Service. The amount of fees to join an existing scheme depends upon the size of the enterprise and the authority with which they register.

Who Are Responsible Producers

In addition to the direct manufacturers who meet the test above, other businesses that fall into the following classifications are considered responsible producers:

  • Chains store outlets that are supplied by UK wholesalers. These entities are expected to sell more than 50 tonnes of products to consumers that are comprised of packaging products like glass, plastic and metal.
  • Food manufacturers that sell more than 50 tonnes of plastic trays with cardboard outer layers.
  • Pallet manufacturers who construct more than 50 tonnes of pallets in a given year.
  • Trading companies that import for retail sales.

Prosecutions have been undertaken against businesses that have filed inaccurate or incomplete reports as well as companies that have simply failed to comply.

PRN and PERN Responsibilities

Companies can meet their payment obligation by acquiring Packaging Waste Recovery Notes (PRNs) or Packaging Waste Expert Recovery Notes (PERNs). Both these notes have fluctuating open market value. They are directly linked to the demand and supply. Of course, the cost and value of OPRNS and PERNs are also affected by the mandatory recycling targets set for each year. Like all markets, the driving factor is supply and demand.

The market relies upon accurate reporting data from participants. The amount of packaging handled over the previous year must be supported by written declarations, the accuracy of which is critical to the marketplace.

UK and EU Targets

Gov.uk issued the following statements to describe the targets of the UK and the EU:

“The recovery and recycling targets set by the original Directive for packaging waste were revised in 2004 by an amending Directive 2004/12/EC, increasing the recycling targets to be by Member States by 2008 to 60% overall recovery of packaging waste; 55% minimum to 80% maximum recycling of packaging waste. The amending Directive also set material specific recycling targets be weight, as follows: glass (60%), paper and board (60%), metals (50%), plastics (22.5%), and wood (15%). The UK achieved these targets at the end of 2008 and in some cases exceeded them, but must now at least maintain these levels.”

Continuing to meet these high standards has been challenging but rewarding for many responsible producers in the UK. Certain manufacturers have exceeded expectations and taken a responsible approach to surpassing their targets and goals. New research and ongoing innovation are vital to the success of the directive.

For more information about how we can assist you in complying with regulations and reducing your carbon footprint, get in touch with Polythene UK today by calling 0845 643 1601. You can also contact us online.