UK 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.

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

Packaging Waste 

What are the Regulations?

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

They 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 they in place?

They 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 fulfills its essential requirements

They 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

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.

How to comply

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


How Valpak can help?

Valpak was the first ever UK compliance scheme created by industry as a means of outsourcing the onerous task of complying with the UK Packaging Waste Regulations. We offer a range of services to assist companies with packaging compliance. Visit our Packaging Compliance page to find out if your business is obligated and how we can help.


Disclaimer: This web page contains information in summary form which is intended as general guidance only . The guidance does not constitute legal advice on any individual situations and so must not be relied on for decision making purposes.