The Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations 2007 apply to businesses that handle more than 50 tonnes of packaging each year and have a turnover of over £2 million. The regulations enable the UK to achieve national targets for packaging recycling and recovery, set by the EU Packaging Directive 94/62/EC.

In 2025, this regime will be replaced by the new Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) regime for waste from households. Businesses must take steps to record data about the empty packaging and packaged goods that they handle and supply in the UK from 1 January 2023.

Businesses that supply packaging materials or packaged goods to customers are “handling” packaging. These “producers” include manufacturers of packaging materials, large retailers and businesses which supply goods via the internet. Obligated producers must arrange for a certain tonnage of packaging to be recycled on their behalf.

The easiest way to comply with the regulations is through membership of a compliance scheme which recycles packaging on behalf of its members. It is also possible for producers to register individually rather than join a scheme.

In April 2022, the Plastic Packaging Tax was introduced. Plastic packaging that contains less than 30% of recycled plastic is taxed at a rate of £200 per tonne. In 2023, a ban on certain single-use plastic items — including cutlery, cups and takeaway food containers made of polystyrene — was introduced.

This topic enables businesses to decide whether they are subject to the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations 2007 and the forthcoming EPR scheme, and describes how to comply. It describes how to prepare for the new EPR regime, which will replace the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations 2007 in 2025. This topic also explains which businesses are liable for the Plastic Packaging Tax and the new duties that apply to them.

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