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A Guide to Packaging Producer Responsibility

In the corporate world, ‘packaging’ is anything used to hold, protect, handle, deliver, and present goods – from raw materials to finished goods.

You are legally considered to have packaging producer responsibility if your company meets both of the following criteria:
• Your company has handled at least 50 tonnes of packaging materials in the last calendar year
• Your company has a turnover of more than £2million per annum.

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Check if your company has packaging producer responsibility

When calculating if you meet the 50-tonne threshold, you don’t need to include any packaging material you export or have given to someone else to export. You do need to demonstrate what packaging you have exported.

If your company is part of a group, you should add up the total packaging handled and total annual turnover of each of the companies to see if you have packaging producer responsibility.

If you are a holding company and have two or more subsidiaries that handle packaging, or both you the holding company and at least one subsidiary handle packaging, you are classed as a group.

You are classed as a small producer if you have a turnover of between £2-5million, or less than £2million if you are part of a company group that does have an obligation.

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What does ‘handling’ mean regarding packaging producer responsibility?

‘Handling’ means meet all the following criteria:

  • Own the packaging
  • Carry out at least one of the activities in the activity list below, or have it carried out for you
  • Supply packaging or packaging materials at any stage in the process to the person receiving the goods.

You are not considered to be handling packaging if you use packaging materials internally, within your business.

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Activity list for packaging producer responsibility

  • Raw material manufacturer – you produce raw materials for a packaging manufacturer
  • Packaging conversion – you convert raw materials into packaging
  • Packing or filling – you put goods into packaging or put packaging around goods
  • Selling – supplying packaged goods to customers
  • Importing – importing packaged goods/packaging materials from outside the UK
  • Service provider – a business that supplies packaging by hiring it or lending it out.

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Your obligations for packaging producer responsibility

Every year, obligated packaging producers should:

  • Register as a packaging producer by 7 April
  • Meet their recycling obligations
  • Get evidence of their compliance
  • Submit a certificate of compliance (CoC) by 31 January the following year.

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Packaging producer responsibility charges

As at March 2024, the charges to register as a producer are £776 and £562 for a small producer.

When you join a compliance scheme, it must pass on your registration fee to the appropriate regulator. The scheme’s charges are currently:

  • £180 each for the first four subsidiaries
  • £90 each for the next 5 – 20 subsidiaries
  • £45 for any further subsidiaries.

There is no charge for a small producer subsidiary using the allocation method.

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Eco-friendly packaging producer responsibility rules

By law, obligated packaging producers must follow a set of rules designed to ensure that your packaging practices meet a minimum eco-friendly threshold.

According to the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations 2007, obligated packaging producers must follow rules which help to:

  • Reduce the amount of packaging produced in the first place
  • Reduce how much packaging waste goes to landfill, and
  • Increase the amount of packaging waste that is recycled.

These rules are in addition to your duty of care when it comes to business waste.

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The consequences of non-compliance of packaging producer responsibility

Once you register as an obligated packaging producer, you must meet your legal obligations. If you fail to do so, or provide false or misleading information, you could face serious penalties and even criminal prosecution.

As well as material losses, businesses found not to be in compliance with rules designed to protect people and the environment could face reputational damages, as well as the revocation of licenses or permits that may hurt your business in the long-run.

It’s therefore crucial businesses follow the packaging practice rules set out by the government. Always consult legal professionals or regulatory authorities if you’re ever unsure.

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Business insurance from Towergate

When it comes to business insurance, one size doesn’t fit all. We can offer tailored cover for your business.

Get a quote online or call 0344 892 1664.

For more information on protecting your business against risk, please speak to your usual Towergate adviser.

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About the author

Alison Wild BCom (Hons), FMAAT, MATT, Taxation Technician is a highly respected industry professional who has been working with and advising SMEs in areas including tax, pensions, insurance and marketing for over 25 years. She is a Fellow member of the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT), a member of the Association of Tax Technicians (ATT) and also has 20 years' experience as a residential landlord.