Packaging Waste Regulations

The Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations were introduced in 1997 with the aim of reducing the amount of packaging waste ending up in landfill.

What is packaging?

Packaging is made from materials such as plastic, cardboard, steel etc and its main purpose is to enclose and protect goods for distribution, storage and display.  Some primary packaging has a secondary purpose, which is to attract and encourage consumers to purchase the products contained within that piece of packaging.

What is packaging waste?

Packaging waste occurs when a piece of packaging is no longer needed to protect or display a product. A consumer or end user will discard of packaging once its role is no longer necessary.

What are the Packaging Waste Regulations?

The Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations was the first piece of producer responsibility legislation in the UK, and works on the principle of shared producer responsibility.

These regulations require packaging producers (businesses that perform an activity on packaging) to take responsibility for their environmental impact, and obligated producers must pay a proportion of the cost of the recovery and recycling of packaging via the purchase of certificates or recycling evidence, otherwise known as Packaging Waste Recovery Notes (PRNs).

Why are these regulations in place?

The UK Packaging Waste Regulations were introduced with the aim of:

  • reducing the amount of packaging waste going to landfill
  • controlling the amount of heavy metals used in packaging
  • ensuring packaging fulfils its essential requirements

The UK Packaging Waste Regulations consist of the following three sets of Regulations:

  1. The Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations 2007 (as amended)
  2. The Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2007 (as amended)
  3. The Packaging (Essential Requirements) Regulations 2015

Please visit our Packaging (Essential Requirements) Regulations page to find out more about how these regulations affect businesses.

What happens if the rules are breached?

If a business is found to be non-compliant with the Packaging Waste Regulations, it could face criminal prosecution. However, the introduction of civil sanctions now means that this isn’t always the outcome for non-compliant businesses based in England and Wales.

If you think your business has been or is non-compliant with these regulations, please visit our Civil Sanctions page for further information and to find out how Valpak can help.

What do you need to do?

Obligated organisations must:

  • register with the appropriate environment agency. This can be done either directly with the environment agency or organisations can join Valpak
  • complete an annual data submission detailing the amount of packaging handled
  • calculate their obligation i.e. how much packaging waste they must pay towards getting recycled; use our Packaging Obligation Calculator
  • meet obligation by procuring recycling evidence notes known as PRNs (packaging waste recovery notes)
  • provide recycling information to consumers if packaging is supplied to end users
    (Consumer Information Obligations)

How can Valpak help you be compliant?

Valpak was the first ever compliance scheme, created by industry as a means of outsourcing the onerous task of complying with these regulations. For more information about how Valpak can help please visit our Packaging Compliance page.

If you are looking for help collecting packaging weights or wish to fully outsource the entire data collection and submission process, we can help. Visit our Data Management page to find out more.

What services do Valpak offer around packaging?

Take our free obligation test today to find out if your business needs to comply with the Packaging Waste Regulations or use our free online Packaging Obligation Calculator to receive a summary of your business’s obligation for this compliance year.

We offer a range of services to assist companies with packaging compliance. If you are unsure if your business is obligated and you would like more information about what you need to do to ensure compliance and how Valpak can help, please do not hesitate to call us on 03450 682 572 or email