Packaging legislation to be aware of in 2024

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It can be tricky trying to keep up with the legislation that applies in the packaging industry.

With the UK Government bringing in sweeping reforms around packaging waste, it’s a good time to get your head around what packaging related regulations you should know about in 2024.

In this article, we’ll review the key pieces of packaging legislation that might impact you in 2024, if you’re a UK-based business.

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packaging legislation

What is packaging legislation?

Packaging legislation is any legal requirement or regulation that involves packaging materials. The legislation may only apply to certain businesses, depending on different criteria, such as how much packaging they produce or handle.

packaging legislation

What packaging legislation should you be aware of in 2024?

In the UK there are four key pieces of packaging legislation to be aware of: Packaging Waste Regulations, Extended Producer Responsibilities, the UK Plastic Packaging Tax and the EU Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive. Let’s take a look at each one…

Packaging Waste Regulations

If your business produces or uses packaging, or sells packaged goods, you may be classed as an “obligated producer” under packaging waste regulations. The regulations aim to help businesses to reduce the amount of packaging they produce, reduce how much of their packaging goes to landfill and increase the amount of their packaging waste that is recycled.

You’ll be classed as an obligated producer if:

  • handled 50 tonnes of packaging materials or packaging in the previous calendar year
  • have a turnover of more than £2 million a year (based on the last financial year’s accounts)

In this instance, you will need to be registered by a packaging producer by 7 April every year, meet any required recycling obligation and obtain evidence of your compliance. Your certificate of compliance then needs to be submitted by 31 January the following year. Click here to learn more.

Extended Producer Responsibilities

In addition to the standard packaging waste regulations, the UK Government has introduced Extended Producer Responsibilities (EPR). EPR legislation is a reform of historic packaging waste regulations that looks to shift the cost of household packaging waste management to producers.

Obligated businesses will have to provide even more granular information about the packaging they’re putting on to the UK market. They’ll also need to pay fees, depending on their packaging use and if the packaging is likely to end up in household waste. Fees are set to be modulated, based on the packaging material. So, for example, plastic is expected to be taxed more than paper. Even within the category of “plastics” different types of plastics will have different fees, depending on how easy they are to recycle.

To be considered in scope, the following needs to apply:

  • you’ll be an individual business, subsidiary or group (but not a charity)
  • you’ll have an annual turnover of £1 million or more (based on your most recent annual accounts)
  • you’ll have been responsible for more than 25 tonnes of packaging in 2022
  • you’ll carry out any packaging activities as defined by the Government

Different reporting and fees will then depend on if you’re a large business or a small business. Large businesses will have enhanced reporting and fee paying obligations, including paying waste management fees, scheme administrator costs, and charges to the environmental regulator.

Large businesses are defined as organisations over £2m in annual turnover and who are putting more than 50 tonnes of packaging on the UK market. Click here for more information.

UK Plastic Packaging Tax

Introduced in 2022, the UK Plastic Packaging Tax applies a levy to plastic packaging materials that contain less than 30% recycled content. Currently, the fee is £210.82 per tonne. It was last raised in April 2023, so we may see another increase in the tax in April 2024. (You can learn more about the regulations here.)   

When you consider that modulated EPR fees are expected to be higher for plastic materials on top of the Plastic Packaging Tax, the Government is really incentivising businesses to high recycled content materials, more recyclable plastics or even ditch it in favour of paper-based packaging materials.

EU Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive

‍The EU’s new Corporate Social Responsibility Reporting Directive (CSRD) requires at least 50,000 large companies within the EU, to create a report on their social and environmental impact actions from 2024 onwards.

While you might think “wait – the UK isn’t part of the EU anymore” the legislation could apply to UK businesses with strongholds in other European countries. They will apply in two scenarios:

  • Listed Securities – if your company has securities listed on an EU regulated market, regardless of its location, it will fall under the scope of the CSRD reporting obligations.
  • EU Net Turnover – if your company has a net turnover in the EU exceeding €150 million over the last two consecutive financial years, it will be subject to the CSRD if your company meets either of the following criteria:
  1. You have an EU subsidiary with securities listed on an EU regulated market or qualifies as a large undertaking.
  2. Your company operates an EU branch that has generated a net turnover exceeding €40 million in the previous financial year.

If these scenarios apply to your business, you will need to comply with the CRSD.

So, what does it mean for packaging? In essence, packaging strategies may form part of your sustainability reporting and have a direct influence on your environmental impact. You may need to consider your packaging waste data, the recyclability of your packaging and how packaging could affect your carbon footprint. Plus, you will have an obligation to report on this information. Find out more here.

packaging legislation

Support mitigating the impact of packaging legislation in 2024

At Macfarlane Packaging, we’re geared up to help you mitigate the impact packaging legislation can have on your business:

  • Sustainable packaging products – we have an extensive range of recycled content and recyclable packaging products. For example, our stock 0201 double wall cardboard boxes are made form 100% recycled content! We can also offer FSC® certified products too.
  • Easy  “click-of-a-button” reporting – our e-trading system can help you produce packaging weight data in seconds, helping you cut down admin time associated with packaging legislation and waste reporting.
  • Packaging optimisation – our experts can help you create more sustainable, right-size packaging that’s lighter. This can help you reduce your overall pack weight and remove CO2 from your packaging supply chain. We can even show you the material impact of this with our unique Packaging Optimiser software that shows the cost and CO2 reductions our solutions can generate..
  • Advice from a business dedicated to sustainability – we’re always looking for ways to make our business more sustainable and help our customers do the same. We hold certifications, accreditations and standards that demonstrate our commitment to sustainability practices, like an EcoVadis gold rating, as well as being a Sedex member (find out more here). So, you can rest assured you’re getting expert packaging advice from a trustworthy source.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch to see how we can help you today.