Packaging Waste Regulations

Packaging Waste Regulations

Packaging Waste Regulations

It’s not just us trying to reduce the amount of excess waste that goes into landfill, in 1997 the Government introduced packaging waste regulations for ‘obligated’ packaging producers, which aim to manage and reduce packaging waste in the UK.

More than 6,000 companies in the UK are classed as an ‘obligated’ packaging producer, it’s easy to find out if that includes you just by answering yes to these two simple questions:

  1. Did you handle* 50 tonnes or more of packaging material or packaging in the previous calendar year?
  2. Do you have a turnover of more than £2 million per year (based on financial year’s figures)?

*Handle means you:

  • Carry out one or more of these activities AND own the packaging on which the activities are carried out:
    • Produce raw materials for packaging manufacture
    • Convert raw materials into packaging
    • Put goods into packaging or put packaging around goods
    • Supply packaging to the end user
    • Import packaged goods or packaging materials outside the UK
    • Supplies packaging by hiring it out or lending it
  • Supply packaging or packaging materials in any stage in the chain or to the final user of packaging

If you are an obligated packaging producer you need to take these simple steps to meet the Government guidelines:

  1. Complete an annual data submission detailing the amount of packaging handled (you can contact your packaging supplier who will provide you with the weight per packaging type delivered the previous year)
  2. Register with the Environment Agency before April
  3. Calculate your obligation (this is how much packaging waste you will need to pay towards being recycled)
  4. Show evidence of the recovery and recycling of a specified amount of packaging waste with Packaging Recovery Notes (PRNs) or Packaging Export Recovery Notes (PERNs)
  5. Prepare an Operational Plan detailing how compliance will be achieved
  6. Submit a Certificate of Compliance and you’re done!

Read our useful green tips on how to reduce your packaging waste

Carrier bag charges: retailers’ responsibilities

Carrier bag charges: retailers’ responsibilities

Carrier bag charges were introduced in England on 5 October 2015 as part of the policy to reduce waste.

If you’re a large retailer the minimum price is 5p for most single-use plastic carrier bags. If you’re a small or medium-sized business you don’t have to charge, but you’re free to do so voluntarily.

If you’re already charging 5p or more for bags you don’t need to charge an extra 5p.

You must charge if:

You employ 250 or more full-time equivalent employees (in total and not just in retail roles). The number of full-time equivalent employees is the number of total hours contracted to work by all employees divided by the number of hours worked by a single full-time employee. A full-time staff member who worked all year counts as 1 employee. Part-time and seasonal staff, and those who did not work the full year, are counted as fractions of 1 employee.

  • Sell goods in England
  • Deliver goods to England

Companies with fewer than 250 full-time equivalent employees don’t have to charge. If your store is part of a franchise or symbol group (sharing a brand and products) you only count employees in your business. You don’t count the franchise or symbol group as a whole.Bags you charge for

A bag is considered as such if it has an opening and isn’t sealed. You must charge at least 5p a bag for carrier bags that are:

  • unused - it’s new and hasn’t been used previously for sold goods to be taken away or delivered
  • plastic
  • with handles
  • 70 microns thick or less

Charging for delivery bags

You should consider offering customers bagless deliveries, as you must charge for plastic bags used for deliveries and online sales. You don’t have to charge for sealed packaging as this isn’t covered by the charge.

The number of bags used isn’t always known until delivery takes place. This means you can charge for an average number of bags for multi-bag deliveries, as long as 5p or more is charged per bag overall.

Charges apply to both home deliveries and click-and-collect (or similar) collections.

Bags you don’t charge for

You don’t charge for plastic bags that are:

  • for uncooked fish and fish products
  • for uncooked meat, poultry and their products
  • for unwrapped food for animal or human consumption - for example, chips, or food sold in containers not secure enough to prevent leakage during normal handling
  • for unwrapped loose seeds, flowers, bulbs, corns, rhizomes (roots, stems and shoots, such as ginger) or goods contaminated by soil (such as potatoes or plants)
  • for unwrapped blades, including axes, knives, and knife and razor blades
  • for prescription medicine
  • for live aquatic creatures in water
  • woven plastic bags
  • for goods in transport, such as at an airport or on a train, plane or ship
  • considered as sealed packaging for mail order and click-and-collect orders (regardless of handles)
  • returnable multiple reuse bags (bags for life)
  • used to give away free promotional material
  • used for a service but there’s no sale of goods, such as dry cleaning or shoe repairs

A bag can contain multiple items from this list and not incur a charge. However, if the bag contains other items then you must charge. For example, you wouldn’t charge for a bag containing an unwrapped blade and unwrapped loose seeds, but adding a box of cornflakes means you’d have to charge.

Returnable multiple reuse bags

A returnable multiple reuse bag must be:

  • sold for 5p or more
  • returnable to the seller to be replaced free of charge
  • 50 to 70 microns thick
  • at least 404mm by 439mm (in either width or height, and excluding any gussets or handles)

Super biodegradable bags

There are no exemptions for biodegradable bags at present. However, the government is considering an exemption to encourage development of a new, genuinely biodegradable, more environmentally friendly bag. This would be introduced as an amendment at a later date.

Defra has commissioned a review of existing industry standards for biodegradability of lightweight plastics. It will review whether there are standards that could be used to introduce an exemption from the charge and, if so, how the exemption would be carried out. Defra has to submit the report to Parliament by 5 October 2015.

  • 50 to 70 microns thick
  • at least 404mm by 439mm (in either width or height, and excluding any gussets or handles)

What retailers have to do

For every bag that you charge for, you must:

  • charge at least 5p a bag (including any VAT)
  • make every effort to ensure that you’re charging for self-checkout bags
  • keep a reporting year’s records for 3 years from 31 May in the following reporting year
  • send records to Defra on or before 31 May following the end of the reporting year

You must also record for the whole reporting year:

  • the number of bags supplied
  • the gross and net proceeds of the charge
  • any VAT in the gross proceeds
  • what you did with the proceeds from the charge
  • any reasonable costs and how they break down

Sending records to Defra

It’s your responsibility to send records to Defra annually. You also need to supply contact details to Defra. You must send records to Defra by 31 May following the end of the reporting year.

Packaging Recycling (excluding food)

Packaging Recycling (excluding food)

Packaging Recycling (excluding food)

Although there’s no formal legislation to say you have to print information on to your packaging, (unless it’s food-related) to say what material it is, we think it’s good business practice to be help your customers recycle by including the appropriate packaging symbol for the material type.

For polythene these are:

High Density Polyethylene

Low Density Polyethylene

Polypropylene

Any other type of plastic

And for paper, they’re:

Cardboard

Mixed paper (such as that found in magazines and junk mail)

Paper (letters, printer paper, etc)

Suffocation Hazards

Suffocation Hazards

Suffocation Hazards

The Toy Safety Directive stipulates that all toys and packaging associated with toys should comply with its safety obligations. There isn’t a coherent standard for warnings, so we suggest best practice is to print a safety warning notice along the lines of: “To avoid danger of suffocation, keep this wrapper away from babies and children”

Print Guidelines for Charity Collection Sacks

Print Guidelines for Charity Collection Sacks

Charity Collections Sacks are helping to divert tonnes of textile waste from landfill.

Here is the official guide from the Office for Civil Society to follow when creating your charity sack specification:

Should the person exempted organise and run its own property collection (e.g. clothes), as opposed to using a commercial partner, then the collection bags should have displayed on them the following:

  • The name of the charity;
  • The charitable purpose of the charity;
  • Registered charity number;
  • Landline telephone number for queries.

In addition to the above, should the charity be doing property collections through a third party the collection bags need to have a solicitation statement clearly printed on them in a font sufficiently large to be read by the mildly visually impaired. 

This guidance is for those with National Exemption Orders.

Source: charityretail.org.uk and gov.uk

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