Are you aware of your packaging waste obligations?


12 April 2016

DEFRA has launched a consultation on the proposed consolidated version of the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations 2007. While the legal position will not change, amendments made will be consolidated into one easily understood piece of legislation. It’s a timely reminder of the packaging waste regime and will once again draw attention to the obligations it places on businesses.

Non-compliance is a criminal offence and if prosecuted can lead to large fines. The Environment Agency, who regulates this regime, can impose civil sanctions as an alternative to criminal prosecution. In our experience, this is the route that is frequently being taken, whereby the offending company offers to make a donation to an environmental charity. Between August and December 2015, around £76,000 was donated by businesses that had failed to comply with their packaging waste obligations.

Despite the Regulations being in force for nine years, we still routinely come across businesses (both small and large) that are unaware of their packaging waste obligations and therefore failing to meet their legal requirements. Where this issue arises on merger and acquisition transactions, it can require prompt remedial action and the negotiation of indemnities to cover any associated costs.

Do the packaging waste regulations apply to your business?

Any company that handles more than 50 tonnes of packaging and has a turnover of more than £2 million has obligations under the Regulations. You handle packaging if you:

  • manufacture packaging
  • put goods into packaging
  • sell packaged goods to end users
  • import packaging or packaged goods into the UK

If you are obligated, and your turnover is below £5 million, you will be a small producer and able to benefit from a simplified calculation and reporting procedure.

Packaging waste regulations at group level

Where there is a corporate group, obligations are considered at group level. If your group structure has changed recently, for example, following an acquisition or disposal, you need to be sure that packaging handled by all relevant companies is covered.

Do the packaging regulations apply to European operations?

The packaging waste regime comes from a European Directive and therefore all Member States have implemented similar rules. This means that if you have any European operations you also need to consider what local regimes are in force and whether you meet the thresholds to be obligated there.

Elizabeth Shepherd
Elizabeth Shepherd, Head of Environment
e: ElizabethShepherd@eversheds.com
t: +44 161 831 8215
m: +44 786 079 6884