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ECITA ISE: ER Chapter 9 Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (1994)

12 : ER Chapter 9 Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (1994) (as amended)

Thursday, November 6, 2014


The Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive of 1994 (94/62/EC) was amended (Annex 1) by Commission Directive 2013/2/EU, in order to reflect changes in the international approach to reducing the impacts of waste products on the environment. The UK Packaging (Essential Requirements) Regulations 2003, and the UK Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations 2007 are both implementations of the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive 94/62/EC, and UK Statutory Instrument 2013 No. 2212 implements the 2013 amendment by Commission Directive 2013/2/EU.

Packaging and the single market

Free movement of goods, in this case packaging, lies at the heart of the single European market. In May 1985, European Community Ministers agreed on a ‘New Approach to Technical Harmonisation and Standards’ to fulfil this objective. ‘New Approach’ EC Directives set out the essential requirements, usually written in general terms, which must be met before products may be placed on the market in the United Kingdom or anywhere else in the European Community. Mandated European harmonised standards in respect of a product provide detailed characteristics and tests which meet the essential requirements.

Use of the standards is voluntary and manufacturers are free to choose alternative means in order to demonstrate compliance. However, demonstrating conformity with the harmonised standards provides a “presumption of compliance” with the essential requirements of the Packaging Directive and Member States are obliged to grant market access to packaging meeting the standards.

A series of standards in relation to packaging were published by the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN). These provide framework methodologies for considering reduction, reuse, recyclability and recovery. These may help in considering packaging minimisation and environmental considerations.

Definition of Packaging

The Regulations apply to all packaging placed on the market as packed or filled packaging. Packaging is defined as all products made of any material of any nature to be used for the containment, protection, handling, delivery and presentation of goods, from raw materials to processed goods, from the producer to the user or the consumer, including non-returnable items used for the same purposes, but only where the products are sales or primary packaging; grouped or secondary packaging or transport or tertiary packaging as defined.

The full definition is in the Regulations and is clarified by three additional criteria. These are:

i.    Items shall be considered to be packaging if they fulfil the above definition without prejudice to other functions which the packaging might also perform. However, where an item is an integral part of a product and it is necessary to contain, support or preserve that product throughout its lifetime and all elements are intended to be used, consumer or disposed of together, (e.g. a pre-filled cartridge or cartomiser) the item will not constitute packaging for the purposes of the Regulations.
ii.    Items designed and intended to be filled at the point of sale and disposable items sold, filled or designed and intended to be filled at the point of sale shall be considered to be packaging only if they fulfil a packaging function. (This means that empty cartomisers, clearomisers and tanks would not constitute ‘packaging’ under these Regulations.)
iii.    Packaging components and ancillary elements integrated into packaging shall be considered to be part of the packaging into which they are integrated. Ancillary elements attached to a product, and which perform a packaging function shall be considered to be packaging unless they are an integral part of that product and all elements are intended to be consumed or disposed of together.

Packaging Producers – Who needs to register?

You must register your business if:

•    You handle more than 50 tonnes of obligated packaging a year
•    Your turnover is more than £2 million a year

You ‘handle’ packaging if your business:

•    Manufactures or converts raw materials to make packaging
•    Fills packaging with products
•    Sells packaged goods to customers
•    Hires out packaging, e.g. pallets
•    Operates a franchise or other licensed business, including pubs
•    Imports packaging or packaged goods
•    Brings transit packaging into the UK that will end up as waste in the UK.


You don’t have to register if the 50 tonnes of packaging is second hand packaging that is being reused in its original form and for the same purpose.

What the law requires

The main requirement of the regulations is that no one who is responsible for packing or filling products into packaging or importing packed or filled packaging into the United Kingdom, may place that packaging on the market unless it fulfils the Essential Requirements (see below) and is within the heavy metal concentration limits.

Design for all recovery routes is increasingly important in marrying disposed packaging from domestic and commercial waste streams with the collection and sorting infrastructure. Well-designed packaging, which is easily recoverable or reused, minimises environmental impacts and usually saves costs for everyone involved.

Essential Requirements

In summary, the Essential Requirements are:

i.    Packaging volume and weight must be a minimum amount to maintain the necessary levels of safety, hygiene and acceptance for the packed product and for the consumer;
ii.    Packaging must be manufactured so as to permit reuse or recovery in accordance with specific requirements;
iii.    Noxious or hazardous substances in packaging must be minimised in emissions, ash or leachate from incineration or landfill.

The Packaging Standards can be used for demonstrating compliance with the essential requirements, and Packaging Standards Compliance Procedures are provided to ECITA members.

Heavy metal limits

The aggregate heavy metal limits apply to cadmium, mercury, lead and hexavalent chromium in packaging or packaging components subject to some exemptions. However, none of the exemptions will apply to the packaging for electronic cigarette products, except where glass bottles are used, so the information in this chapter will only include exemptions related to glass. (See Derogation for glass packaging below.)

The total by weight of such metals should not exceed 100 parts per million (ppm).

A packaging component is defined as any part of the packaging that can be separated by hand or by using simple physical means – for example, a bottle top.

This does not include permanent coatings or pigments, which would be regarded as a constituent of the packaging (or of the packaging component) and would thus be part of any calculation, but not required to meet the heavy metal limits independently. For example, a steel drum coated in lead chromate based paint would only exceed the limit if the lead chromate was greater than the limit in relation to the mass of the drum and the paint taken together.


Enforcement Officers may assess the compliance of any packaging by requesting technical documentation on both the packaging essential requirements and the heavy metal limits. The responsible person for the purposes of these Regulations should demonstrate compliance with the Regulations by providing enforcement authorities, on request, with the necessary technical documentation. The responsible person must be able to supply technical documentation for a period of up to four years from the date on which the packaging is placed on the market.

It may be appropriate for the responsible person to refer to their suppliers for relevant information, such as test results or technical information, or to specify requirements as part of the supply arrangements. However, it should be noted that such suppliers would normally only be able to provide information concerning those aspects of the essential requirements which are directly under their control and that legal responsibility remains with the responsible person. The umbrella standard (EN13427:2004) recommends the level in the supply chain at which the various assessments for conformity should be carried out.

This documentation must be produced within 28 days of the request being made.

Derogation for glass packaging

Commission Decision 2006/340/EC indefinitely extended the derogation in relation to the heavy metals concentration limits in glass packaging. Heavy metal concentration limits do not apply to lead crystal glass packaging.

The derogation allows glass packaging heavy metals concentration limits greater than those permitted by the Regulations to be placed on the market if they fulfil a number of conditions, namely:

•    No regulated metals have been intentionally introduced during the manufacturing process of glass packaging.
•    The limits are exceeded only as a result of the addition of recycled materials containing heavy metals.
•    That the manufacturer or, if the manufacturer is outside the EU, responsible person placing the product on the market, must submit a report to the enforcement authority in the event that the average heavy metals concentration level over twelve months’ production from an individual glass furnace exceeds a 200 ppm limit.

Existing requirements for packaging

The Regulations do not affect the application of existing quality or labelling requirements for packaging, such as safety, the protection of health and hygiene of the packed products, existing transport requirements or provisions on hazardous waste. In other words, existing legislation on these matters must be complied with.

The Waste Resources Action Programme(1) (WRAP), part funded by government, provides a comprehensive information and signposting service for firms. They work with a wide range of partners, from major UK businesses, trade bodies and local authorities through to individuals looking for practical advice.

We recommend you register with a compliance scheme, such as Valpak(2).



1 http://www.wrap.org.uk//

2 http://www.valpak.co.uk/compliance-services/packaging