seeba Fact Sheet
EU Directive Requirements
- To harmonise national measures in order to remove obstacles to trade and distortion and restriction of competition.
- To reduce the environmental impact of packaging by reducing packaging at source, maximising the recovery of used packaging, and eliminating harmful materials.
- All household, commercial and industrial packaging waste marketed in the European Union.
Member States must:
- set up systems to recover at least 50% of packaging waste and no more than 65% by July 2001 and to recycle at least 25% and no more than 45% of packaging materials, with no material recycled at less than 15%.
- take action to reduce the quantity and the harmfulness to the environment of materials and substances used, and in general promote "clean" products and technology.
- ensure other preventative measures are taken, such as "collecting and taking advantage of" packaging waste prevention initiatives.
- notify the Commission of measures adopted or to be adopted.
- report on progress and set up national databases so implementation can be monitored.
- "where appropriate", encourage the use of materials recovered from recycled packaging waste in the production of new packaging and other products.
- ensure that packaging is allowed on the market only if it complies with certain "essential requirements", which include minimisation of packaging weight and volume to the amount needed for safety and consumer acceptance of the packed product, and suitability for material recycling, energy recovery or composting.
- limit heavy metals content to 100 ppm by July 2001.
- allow free access to packaging complying with the Directive
UK Requirements (implementing the EU directive)
Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations 1997 (as amended)
Affects businesses which
- Perform one or more of these activities:
- Manufacturing packaging raw materials
- Converting materials into packaging
- Using packaging to pack products or for filling with products
- Selling packaging (i.e. products contained in packaging) to the final consumer;
- Own the packaging in question; and
- Supply to someone in another stage of the packaging chain or to the final user, and
- " Exceed the threshold tests in the previous year i.e.
- Annual turnover exceeds £2 million and
- Handles more than 50 tonnes of packaging for the year in question
Recovery and Recycling Targets:
Overall recovery and recycling targets are set for obligated businesses as a whole, e.g.
However, businesses bear responsibility for meeting these targets in different proportions according to which activity they perform (= the "activity obligation"):
- Manufacturing packaging raw materials - 6%
- Converting materials into packaging - 9%
- Using packaging to pack products or for filling with products - 37%
- Selling packaging (i.e. products contained in packaging) to the final consumer - 48%
Recovery and Recycling Obligations
The individual recovery and recycling obligations will depend upon the activity in question and the type of packaging material being handled:
- Recovery obligation = packaging handled x activity obligation (i.e. % share) x recovery target
NB. Recovery means either recycling, energy recovery or composting
- Recycling obligation = packaging handled by material x activity obligation x recycling target
NB. Recycling means reprocessing waste materials in a production process into new materials or product
In addition, producers who are "sellers" have an obligation to provide certain information to consumers
There are 2 ways in which a business can meet its obligations:
- Comply individually (note: a business with an annual turnover exceeding £5 million must submit a 'compliance plan' with its application for registration setting out the steps it will take to comply. In addition the business must pay the registration fee to the Agency, provide data on packaging handled, recovered and recycled each year and provide evidence of compliance with the recovery and recycling obligations.
- Join a compliance scheme - there are various scheme in operation including VALPAK, BIFFPACK, CLEANAPACK and RECYCLE UK. Here, provided the business meets the conditions of scheme membership, including provision of necessary data and payment of subscription fees, the scheme assumes the compliance obligations of its members
Packaging Recovery Notes
- The system of Packaging Recovery Notes ("PRNs") has been developed in the UK - and is unique to the UK; no other EU country chose this route to implementing the EU Directive - as a means of enabling obligated businesses and compliance schemes to obtain evidence of compliance.
- PRNs are issued by accredited packaging waste reprocessors. Obligated businesses / compliance schemes delivering packaging waste to a reprocessor can ask to be issued with a PRN for the requisite amount. Alternatively they can buy PRNs from reprocessors or on the open market from those with excess PRNs on their hands (they are tradeable).
- This has led to the market price of PRNs fluctuating considerably according to supply and demand
- The PRN system has been very controversial
- The Packaging (Essential Requirements) Regulations 1998 translate into UK law the requirement of the EU Packaging Directive that, primarily, all packaging in the EU must comply with certain "essential requirements" in order to ensure uniformity across the EU Single Market.
- No one responsible for packing or filling products into packaging or importing packed or filled packaging into the UK may place that packaging on the market unless that packaging fulfils the Essential Requirements and the Heavy Metal Concentration Limits:
In summary, the Essential Requirements are:
- 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, ash or leachate from incineration or landfill
- Packaging must be recoverable through at least one of: " Material recycling " Incineration with energy recovery " Composting " Biodegradation
- In summary, the Heavy Metal Limits are:
- Aggregate heavy metal limits apply to cadmium, mercury, lead and hexavalent chromium.
- The total by weight should not exceed:
- 600 ppm on or after 30 June 1998
- 250 ppm on or after 30 June 1999
- 100 ppm on or after 30 June 2001