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What Are the Statutory Responsibilities

For Councils

Local councils are obliged by law to provide a domestic refuse collection service to all households within their constituency. Following the passing of the EU Landfill Directive (1999/31/EC), the Landfill (England & Wales) Regulations 2002 were brought into force in the UK. These Regulations are gradually being implemented through the Government's Waste Strategy 2000.

The Landfill (England & Wales) Regulations require the reduction in the quantity of biodegradable and recyclable household waste being disposed of via landfill.

Under the Waste Strategy, local councils are required to increase recycling and composting of household waste to meet rising targets over a number of years.

Recycling and composting targets:

  2005 2010 2015
Recycling/composting target 25% 30% 33%

It is the responsibility of each individual council to provide recycling services, rather than relying on prescriptive instruction from County Councils or Central Government.

While there are general statutory recycling targets for local councils, there are no material specific targets. Local council targets are currently weight-based, with many councils tending to favour the heavier items for their collection schemes. However, Recoup's research shows that the addition of plastic bottles to collection programmes has a distinct beneficial impact on the overall yield of all materials.

It is hoped that many councils will realise the benefits of collecting a wider range of dry recyclables from the kerbside, due to the higher tonnage returns generated as a result of the convenience and broad nature of such schemes. In particular, Recoup is hopeful that more and more councils will recognise the beneficial effects on overall material yield resulting from the addition of plastic bottles to kerbside collection schemes, despite their lightweight nature.

For Supply Chain Businesses

European Union Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive

The European Union Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (94/62/EC) called for the recovery of 50-65% (by weight) of total packaging waste, covering all packaging material from any source, with an overall target of 25-45% recycling and a specific target of 15% recycling for each packaging material type to be achieved by July 2001.

The targets have recently been reviewed and the new targets set at:

  • A minimum of 60% recovery
  • Recycling of between 55% and 80%
  • Material-specific recycling targets of
    • Paper 60%
    • Glass 60%
    • Metals 50%
    • Plastic 22.5%
    • Wood 15%

Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations

The Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive is implemented in the UK via the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations, which came into force in March 1997. The Regulations set targets to recover 50% and recycle 25% of packaging by 2001, with a 15% minimum recycling rate for each material (plastic, glass, paper, aluminium, steel and wood).

The government is currently undertaking a consultation into new UK targets. To be updated as soon as information is made available

How do the Producer Responsibility Obligations affect me?

The Producer Responsibility (Packaging Waste) Regulations place obligations on certain businesses to register with the Environment Agency / Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) or compliance schemes, to recover and recycle specific tonnages of packaging waste, certifying that this recovery and recycling has been achieved.

The EC Directive on Packaging and Packaging Waste (94/62/EC) does affect your company if you:

  • have a turnover of £2 million or more


  • handle 50 tonnes of packaging or more per year

N.B. These thresholds apply to groups of companies as well as individual companies

Your company is not obligated if you:

  • handle less than 50 tonnes of packaging per year with a turnover of more than £2 million per year
  • handle more than 50 tonnes of packaging but have a turnover of less than £2 million per year

To ensure that you do not unwittingly become obligated but fail to comply, it is wise to monitor your turnover and packaging handling levels carefully.

Responsibility for compliance is shared along the production chain, by importers, manufacturers (packer/fillers), distributors and retailers. The obligation to meet the targets is shared as follows: raw materials 6%; converters 9%; packer fillers 37%; sellers to the end market 48%.

Recovery Obligation = Obligated packaging handled x activity obligation x UK recovery target for the year in question.

Recycling Obligation by Material = Obligated packaging handled by material x activity obligation x UK recycling target for the year in question.

Obligated companies can fulfil their obligation via two routes:

  • By obtaining evidence (e.g. Packaging Recovery Notes (PRNs) or Export Packaging Recovery Notes (PERNs)) that material has been processed, directly from the reprocessors;


  • Through a compliance scheme that will obtain evidence on their behalf (e.g. Valpak) and take on board some other legal requirements for a fee.

Packaging (Essential Requirements) Regulations and Recyclable Packaging

The Packaging (Essential Requirements) Regulations (1998) implement the single market provisions of the EC Directive on Packaging and Packaging Waste in UK Law.

The Regulations cover the manufacturing and composition of packaging together with the reusable and recoverable nature of packaging. They apply to packaging placed on the market in the UK as packed or filled packaging.

The Essential Requirements can be summarised as:

  • Packaging must be minimal subject to safety, hygiene and acceptance for the packed product and for the consumer
  • Noxious or hazardous substances in packaging must be minimised in emissions, as or leachate from incineration or landfill
  • Packaging must be reusable or recoverable through at least one of the following:
    • Material recycling
    • Incineration with energy recovery
    • Composting or biodegradation

The responsibility for compliance with the Regulations lies with the person who places the packaging or packaging components on the market. This includes anyone who puts his name, mark or trademark on the package, or the importer.

The Regulations are enforced by local Trading Standards Officers who are able to request documentation as proof that the Essential Requirements and Heavy Metal Limits have been met.

It is recommended that companies affected by the Regulations: 

  • Keep records as proof of compliance
  • Retain records for four years after the packaging has been placed on the market
  • Present records for inspection by Trading Standards officers to prove compliance

Co Reg: 2435729 | VAT Reg No: 546 5837 10 | Reg Charity No: 1072029

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