Packaging Waste and Recycling

E.C Directive on Packaging and Packaging Waste (94/62/EC) 2007
As the UK’s response to the EC Directive on packaging and packaging waste, the Producer Responsibility Obligation (Packaging Waste) Regulations came into force in 1997.  These Regulations affect any UK company with an annual turnover in excess of £2 million and who handle more than 50 tonnes of packaging material an any given year.
The Directive places specific targets on all EU members to recycle the amount of packaging they produce so achieving a more sustainable approach to dealing with packaging waste while at the same time reducing the amount of packaging going to landfill.  Targets were set in the Directive placing a legal responsibility on the UK to recover/recycle by 2001 a minimum of 50% of weight of packaging and a minimum of 15% within the general target, of 15% recycling for each material.  The second round of targets for EU members came into force in January 2003 and was implemented by the UK Government on the 1st January 2004.  The new targets required the UK to recycle 75% of all packaging in the waste stream by 2008.
In order to ensure that adequate recycling rates are achieved in each material sector the Government had introduced specific material recycling target rates.  These rates for 2009 are as follows: Glass 80%, Aluminium 38%, Steel 68.5%, Paper 68.5%, Plastic 27% and Wood 21%.
To implement the Directive the Packaging Waste Regulations came into force in 1997.  It placed legal responsibilities on companies to declare the amount of packaging they place in the waste stream, in this way the Government could calculate a levy charge to each producer.  The money generated in this way could then be channelled to the reprocessing/recycling industries through the PRN (Packaging Recovery Note) system so that sector can increase recycling capacity to meet increasing demand as recycling targets increase.
There are three main responsibilities placed on producers who handle packaging, these can be achieved through the individual route or via a compliance scheme.

  1. A Registration Obligation, including a related packaging data requirement.
  1. A Recovery and recycling obligation.
  1. A Certifying Obligation.

The registration obligation requires a producer to register with the Environment Agency (EA) or the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).  At the same time of registration, a fee must be paid (Regulation 9) and packaging data must be provided on a dedicated form, which will be provided by the relevant Agency.  This data form must be completed and returned to the Agency by a specific deadline.
The recovery and recycling obligations (Regulation 3) then requires producers to take reasonable steps to recover and recycle specific tonnages of packaging waste calculated on the basis of three factors.
a) The tonnage of packaging handled by the producer in the previous year.
b) The activities that the producer performs and the percentage obligation attached to each activity.
c) The national recovery and recycling targets.
Recovery & recycling obligations can be achieved by either recycling tonnages in the possession of the producer or by purchasing evidence of recycling capacity year in which it is obligated, and certify that it has recovered and recycled the necessary tonnages of packaging waste.
If the Compliance scheme is the preferred option then the scheme will carry out all the above legal requirements on your behalf.  The scheme will take on all your legal responsibilities by registering you with the Environment Agency, obtaining Packaging recovery notes to meet your obligation and finally presenting a certificate of Compliance to the Agency to show that you have met your responsibilities.

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