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

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