Reducing packaging waste

Packaging has become a big issue, both for householders and for the environment. Packaging serves a critical purpose to ensure that:

  • consumers are able to get the products they want in the right condition
  • products can be economically transported and displayed
  • the right information about products is provided to consumers
  • the product's appearance reflects the consumers expectation for value and cost
  • the product can be displayed and sold securely and without risk of causing harm or environmental damage

But packaging also has to be minimised under European Regulations, ensuring that it is recyclable and that only as much is used as is needed to meet these requirements. This is a very delicate balancing act for those that manufacture, import or sell products.

Company responsibilities

Under the Packaging Waste Regulations, any business that makes, fills or sells packaging is required to register under the Packaging Waste (Producer Responsibility) Regulations 2007. The Regulations impose a cost onto those businesses to ensure that the UK continues to increase the amount of packaging waste that is collected and recycled.

Since the Regulations came into force in 1998, the UK has seen the amount of packaging recycled increase from less than 3m tonnes to nearly 7m tonnes in 2010. This equates to around 65% of all the packaging that is placed on the market, a figure that pushes the UK well up the European league of recycling performance.

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