UK Packaging FAQs
- What are Purchasing Packaging Recovery Notes (PRNs)?
PRNs are documents that provide evidence that waste packaging material has been recycled into a new product. They are issued by reprocessors when for every tonne that is recovered and recycled. These are then purchased by Compliance Schemes on behalf of their clients to prove that waste has been recycled or recovered on their behalf.
- What are the Packaging Waste Regulations?
The UK’s Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations of 1997 and 2007 state that companies must recover and recycle packaging waste to meet national targets. These targets are revised upwards by a small amount annually.
The UK legislation is designed to share the responsibility for waste recovery among the various entities in the packaging chain (i.e. manufacturers, converters, importers, pack-fillers, and sellers). About 5,000 companies in England and Wales are obligated. In order to be obligated, a business must be a producer with a turnover of £2m or above and must handle at least 50 tonnes of packaging in a calendar year.
- What do obligated companies need to do?
Obligated companies must either directly register with the Environment Agency or join a registered compliance scheme on an annual basis.
They must calculate their packaging obligation based upon the weights of all packaging they handle, the activities they perform with this packaging, and the UK’s recycling and recovery targets.
Companies then pay for an equivalent weight of packaging to be recycled on their behalf by reprocessors (e.g. a plastics recycler). If they are directly registered with the Environment Agency, they do this by purchasing Packaging Recovery Notes (PRNs). Alternatively, compliance schemes (e.g., Veolia, Synergy Compliance, Comply Direct) undertake to purchase PRNs on behalf of their members.
- Are you a compliance scheme?
No. Our clients are also members of compliance schemes, whose services are complementary to our own. Our primary focus is to accurately determine how much packaging a client handles, and therefore how many Packaging Recovery Notes (PRNs) they will need to purchase. The primary focus of compliance schemes, on the other hand, is to purchase these PRNs at the lowest cost.
- What is ecoVeritas’ role in the process?
ecoVeritas helps retailers, wholesalers, and manufacturers calculate their packaging obligations. ecoVeritas has developed PACKMAN, a sophisticated data model and management tool to power clients’ calculations. ecoVeritas are not a compliance scheme and therefore can offer an independent calculation service to all clients. We also manage the Retailers’ Producer Responsibility Association (REPRA), which calculates the packaging waste obligations of several large department stores in parallel.
- Has your methodology been audited?
Our data services are listed as an Acknowledged Methodology by the Environment Agency meaning that in the UK our calculation procedures are officially approved and exempt from EA audits.
- What is REPRA’s role?
REPRA is a group of several major UK-based retailers (Fenwick, Fortnum & Mason, Harrods, Harvey Nichols, House of Fraser, John Lewis, Liberty, Morleys and Selfridges). Each year, ecoVeritas calculates the packaging obligations for these companies, and also provides a forum to discuss and exchange best practices, etc. Please visit the REPRA homepage for more details.
- What is the difference between recycling and recovery?
“Recovery” is a broader term than recycling, because it also includes processes like incineration (which can lead to energy recovery, though not the recovery of raw materials).
- What types of packaging must be recycled?
Materials are divided into seven categories: paper/cardboard, glass, aluminium, steel, plastic, wood, and other (which includes materials such as cork and textiles).
- Where can I find out more details about the UK’s Packaging Regulations?
Further details can be found here.