The Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive aims to prevent or reduce the impact of packaging and packaging waste on the environment. The Directive covers all packaging and packaging waste, regardless of the material used and whether it is used or released at industrial, commercial, office, shop, service, household or any other level. It also includes essential requirements on the composition and the reusable and recoverable (including recyclable) nature of packaging in order to ensure uniformity across the EU Single Market.
UK law requires that all packaging meet the requirements of the Directive and specifically the Packaging (Essential Requirements) Regulations, first published in 1998 and subsequently .revised and amended, provided the enforcement measures for the Essential Requirements of the Directive, A series of European Standards has been developed to provide a means of compliance. Purchasers of packaging can ensure that they and their packaging suppliers meet the requirements of the Regulations by specifying that the requirements of the relevant standards are met.
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What is the legal status of the standards?
Use of the standards is voluntary, but for packaging that conforms to the standards, there is a presumption of conformity with the essential requirements of the Directive. This means that if packaging complies with the standards, the burden of proof is reversed. The packaging cannot be denied access to any country in the European Economic Area on grounds of non-conformity with the Directive, unless the enforcement authorities can prove that the packaging has not been produced in conformity with the relevant standards.
What practical benefits do the standards bring?
Packaging designers and specifiers across Europe now have access to consistent expert guidance on how to integrate environmental considerations into their decision-making. Major distributors and packer/fillers insist that their suppliers implement effective quality management systems, and increasingly they refuse to purchase from those which have not. To secure competitive advantage, good suppliers are keen to demonstrate that they have adopted best practice.
When should my company start using the standards?
Straight away. Companies selling packaging materials or components, finished packaging or packaged goods which end up on the British, Czech or French markets may either be directly asked to demonstrate compliance with the Essential Requirements, or may be asked to do so by a customer further along the supply chain. The UK enforcement authorities say that packer/fillers, brand owners and importers must show that they have taken ‘all reasonable steps’ to ensure their packaging complies with the Essential Requirements. They must have a quality management system appropriate to their business which covers all regulatory requirements, operate the system properly, document it, and identify all reasonable steps and take them.
What are the penalties for failure to comply with the standards?
There are no penalties for failing to comply with any standard: standards are always voluntary. However if a producer chooses not to comply with the standards, or is deemed not to be in compliance with them, he must demonstrate that he has taken alternative measures to fulfill the Essential Requirements. The Directive obliges member states to ensure that packaging may be placed on the market only if it meets the Essential Requirements.
Key standards for packaging
Prerequisite programmes and design requirements for food safety in the manufactureand provision of food packaging
BS EN 13427:2004
Packaging. Requirements for the use of European Standards in the field of packaging and packaging waste
BS EN 13428:2004
Packaging. Requirements specific to manufacturing and composition. Prevention by source reduction
BS EN 14375:2003
Child-resistant non-reclosable packaging for pharmaceutical products. Requirements and testing
BS EN 15823:2010
Packaging. Braille on packaging for medicinal products
BS 1133-8:1991 - Currently under review
Packaging code. Wooden boxes, cases and crates