Packaging Waste: Prepare For Extended Producer Responsibility

How UK organisations can prepare for extended producer responsibility (EPR) for packaging.

The way UK organisations responsible for packaging must carry out their recycling responsibilities is changing.
If you’re affected by the new extended producer responsibility (EPR) for packaging, you will need to collect the correct packaging data from 1 January 2023.

Check if you need to take action

The regulations will apply to all UK organisations that handle and supply packaging to consumers and to businesses.
You must take action to comply if all the following apply:

  • you’re an individual business, subsidiary or group (but not a charity)
  • you have an annual turnover of £1 million or more (based on your most recent annual accounts)
  • you’re responsible for over 25 tonnes of packaging in a calendar year (January to December)
  • you carry out any of the packaging activities

 

Packaging activities

You may need to act if you do any of the following:

  • supply packaged goods to the UK market under your own brand
  • package goods for another UK organisation
  • use ‘transit packaging’ to protect goods during transport so they can be sold to UK consumers
  • import products in packaging
  • own an online marketplace
  • hire or loan out reusable packaging
  • sell empty packaging

 

Supplying goods to the UK market under your own brand

Your organisation may need to take action under EPR for packaging if it sells packaged goods labelled with its own brand. A brand includes any of the following:

  • a logo
  • a trademark
  • any distinctive mark

 

For example, a confectionery company produces packaged sweets under their own brand. It sells these sweets to a supermarket. The supermarket goes on to sell the sweets to UK consumers. In this instance, the confectionery company may need to take action. However, the confectionery company would not need to take action if it sold sweets to a supermarket, which then sold them under its own brand. In this instance, the supermarket may need to take action.

You may also need to take action if you pay another company to carry out part of the supply chain for you. For example, you may pay another organisation to do any of the following:

  • produce goods that will be sold under your brand name
  • pack goods that will be sold under your brand name
  • place your branded goods on the UK market

 

Packaging goods for another organisation

If you place goods into unbranded packaging for another UK organisation, you may need to take action.

 

Importing products in packaging

You may need to take action if your organisation imports products from outside the UK that are in primary, secondary, or shipment packaging and goes on to supply these products to the UK market.

You may need to take action even if you discard packaging before selling the goods.

 

Owning an online marketplace

An online marketplace is a website that has been set up to allow non-UK organisations to sell their goods online. If you own an online marketplace, you may need to take action.
If your organisation owns a website that sells goods from UK organisations only, this is not classed as an online marketplace.

 

Hiring or loaning out reusable packaging

If you hire or loan out reusable packaging, you may need to take action.

 

For example, some organisations hire or loan out wooden pallets to other organisations for transporting goods. The wooden pallets are returned after use and loaned out again.

 

Selling empty packaging

You may need to take action if you make and then sell empty packaging to businesses that fall under the higher threshold for EPR for packaging.

This includes organisations that:

  • have an annual turnover of less than £2 million a year
  • handle or supply less than 50 tonnes of packaging a year

 

Packaging definition

Packaging is any material that is used to cover or protect goods that are sold to consumers. It makes handling and delivering goods easier and safer. It includes anything that’s designed to be filled at the point of sale, such as a coffee cup. Packaging also makes goods look appealing and it may display a company’s logo or brand. ‘Goods’ could include raw materials or processed items.

 

What you may need to do

Under the new regulations, you may need to:

  • collect and submit data on the packaging you handle and supply
  • pay a waste management fee
  • buy packaging waste recycling notes (PRNs) or packaging waste export recycling notes (PERNs) to meet your recycling obligations
  • submit information about where your packaging has been sold, hired, loaned, gifted or discarded – this is called ‘nation data’

What you need to do depends on whether you’re classed as a‘small’ or ‘large’ organisation. This is based on:

  • your annual turnover
  • how much packaging you handle and supply each year

 

Check if you’re a large or small organisation

  • You will be classed as a small organisation if either of the following apply:
    your annual turnover is between £1 million and £2 million and you’re responsible for handling and supplying more than 25 tonnes of empty packaging or packaged goods through the UK market
  • your annual turnover is over £1 million and you’re responsible for handling and supplying between 25 tonnes and 50 tonnes of empty packaging or packaged goods through the UK market

 

You will be classed as a large organisation if both of the following apply:

  • you have an annual turnover of £2 million or more
  • you’re responsible for handling and supplying more than 50 tonnes of empty packaging or packaged goods in the UK

You should base your annual turnover on your most recent annual accounts.

Your total weight is the amount of packaging handled or supplied through the UK market in a calendar year (January to December).

 

If you’re a small organisation

To comply with the regulations, you must:

  • take steps to record data about all the empty packaging and packaged goods you handle and supply through the UK market from 1 January 2023
    register for the
    EPR
  • for packaging online service(registration opens for small organisations in 2024)
  • pay an annual fee to the environmental regulator from 2024
  • submit data about empty packaging and packaged goods you handled or supplied through the UK market throughout 2023

 

You’ll need to submit your data between 1 January 2024 and 1 April 2024. 

If you miss the deadline, you may need to pay a penalty charge. You may also need to submit nation data.

 

If you’re a large organisation

To comply with the regulations, you must:

  • take steps to record data about the empty packaging and packaged goods you handle and supply in the UK from 1 January 2023
    register for the EPR for packaging online service from April 2023
  • pay a fee to the environmental regulator buy PRNs or PERNs to meet your recycling obligations
  • submit data about empty packaging and packaged goods you handled or supplied through the UK market

 

You’ll need to submit data every 6 months.

For the period January to June 2023, submit data between 1 July 2023 and 1 October 2023. For the period July to December 2023, submit data between 1 January 2024 and 1 April 2024.

 

If you miss the deadline, you may need to pay a penalty charge.

For any packaging you handle and supply that is collected by local authorities from households or street bins, from April 2024 you must pay the scheme administrator:

  • an administrative fee
  • a waste management fee

You may also need to submit nation data.

 

PRNs and PERNs

A PRN (packaging waste recovery note) or PERN (packaging waste export recovery note) is a certificate proving that packaging waste has been recycled properly.

You can buy PRNs and PERNs from accredited re-processors.Re-processors are responsible for recycling packaging waste.

By buying PRNs and PERNs you work towards meeting your recycling target.

 

If you’re a parent company, group or subsidiary

For parent companies and their subsidiaries, there are different ways you can comply with EPR for packaging. You can register:

  • as a whole group (in this instance, the parent group complies with EPR for packaging on behalf of every subsidiary within the group)
  • as individual subsidiaries (in this instance, the subsidiaries that meet the turnover and tonnage requirements comply with EPR
    for packaging independently)
  • as a parent company for part of the group (this is where the parent company registers to comply with EPR for packaging on behalf of some, but not all of its subsidiaries)

 

You should register as a parent company for part of the group if some of your subsidiaries don’t meet the turnover and tonnage requirements in their own right, but do meet the requirements when combined. In this instance, the parent company will comply with EPR for packaging on behalf of the combined subsidiaries.

 

Check if you need to submit nation data

Nation data is information about which country in the UK your packaging has been sold, hired, loaned, gifted or discarded in.
If your organisation must act under
EPR, you’ll need to submit nation data if you also do any of the following:sell filled or empty packaging directly to consumers in the UK

  • sell empty packaging to UK organisations that are not legally obligated under the regulations
  • hire or loan out reusable packaging
  • own an online marketplace where other organisations sell their empty packaging and packaged goods to UK consumers
  • import packaging to the UK that you discard without selling or exporting it

 

You must submit your nation data for the 2023 calendar year by 1 December 2024.

If you miss the deadline, you may need to pay a penalty charge.

 

Collecting and submitting your packaging data

Your organisation should start preparing now to capture your packaging data. Your data submission must include the weight of:

  • individual materials in the packaging you handle and supply
  • materials used in your ‘primary’, ‘secondary’, ‘shipment’ and‘transit’ packaging
  • packaging likely to become household or non-household waste
  • packaging likely to end up in street bins

The scheme administrator will use your 2023 data to calculate your waste management fees for the financial year 2024 to 2025.

The regulator will use your 2023 data to calculate the amount of PRNs and PERNs you must buy to cover your recycling obligations for the 2024 calendar year.

If you have registered for EPR for packaging as a parent company, you will need to submit data for each of the subsidiaries within your group separately, rather than as a combined group.

 

How to report material type

You must collect data on the weight of individual material types used in the packaging you handle and supply. Give all weights to the nearest tonne (1,000kg). You should categorise your data by the following materials:

  • aluminium
  • fibre-based composite
  • glass
  • paper or cardboard
  • plastic
  • steel
  • wood
  • ‘other’

For example, other materials could include:

  • biodegradable plastics (compostable plastics made of plant-based products)
  • cork
  • cotton
  • flax-based products
  • nitrile
  • rubber
  • silicone

 

You must report each material type separately. For example,you may report that you have handled and supplied 20 tonnes of paper and 5 tonnes of plastic. If you report materials under ‘other’, you must state the weight of each material type. You must also state how much of each material is used in the‘primary’, ‘secondary’, ‘shipment’ or ‘transit’ packaging you handle and supply.

You must also submit the weight of packaging that may end up as household and non-household waste.

 

Primary packaging

Primary packaging is the individual container that you store goods in to sell to consumers. This is called a ‘sales unit’.

 

Secondary
Secondary packaging is for grouping several ‘sales units’ for selling or shipping purposes. Organisations may use secondary packaging to display goods in shops.

 

Shipment packaging
Shipment packaging is a type of secondary packaging for shipping single or multiple sales units to consumers. This includes cardboard boxes and mailing bags.

 

Transit packaging
Transit or tertiary packaging is used to group secondary packaging units together to protect them while being transported or handled. Transit packaging does not include road, rail, ship and air containers.

 

You only need to submit information about reusable packaging, such as pallets, the first time they are used.

 

Household and non-household waste

You must submit the weight of packaging that ends up (or is likely to end up) as household waste. When calculating your waste management fees for the financial year 2024 to 2025, the scheme administrator will treat all primary and shipment packaging as household waste,unless you have clear evidence that some or all of the packaging is unlikely to become household waste.

Packaging that is unlikely to become household waste is classed as non-household waste.

If any of your packaging is non-household waste, you’ll need to demonstrate that you supplied the packaging to a business that consumed and discarded it before the product was supplied to a customer.

If you are unable to demonstrate this, you should class this packaging as household waste. This may be because you supply packaging to a business through a third party (such as a distributor or wholesaler).

If you sell packaging to a customer that they go on to discard on business premises (such as a crisp packet), you should class this as household waste.

 

Street bin waste
You must submit data about the weight of packaging that is likely to end up in street bins.
For food, this includes packaging for:

  • takeaway food, such as wraps, boxes, bags, paper
  • confectionery that weighs less than 230g, such as chewing gum and chocolate
  • crisps and other savoury snacks that weigh less than 60g
  • single portions of ready-to-eat food that doesn’t need any preparation, such as sausage rolls, sushi, sandwiches,individual cakes and biscuits

For drinks, this includes:

  • takeaway drinks, such as cups, cup holders, and straws
  • cartons holding up to 850ml of drink that doesn’t need to bediluted
  • pouches holding up to 600ml of drink that doesn’t need tobe diluted

For tobacco products, this includes packaging for:

  • cigarettes
  • cigars
  • tobacco
  • e-cigarettes

 

Information about fees
As soon as we can, we will give you an indication of what your fees will be in 2024.
From 2025 the waste management fee will vary depending on the type of materials you have reported. Your fee will be lower if you use materials that are easier to recycle.

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