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07/08/2013: Government publishes draft guidance on packaging regulations
The Government has published draft Guidance on the Packaging (Essential Requirements) Regulations 2003 (SI 2003 No 1941) (as amended). The Regulations implement provisions of the European Parliament and Council Directive on Packaging and Packaging Waste (94/62/EC) ("the Directive") relating to the essential requirements to be satisfied by packaging in order to circulate freely on the single market.

‘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 additional criteria. Examples of what is and what is not ‘packaging’ are contained in an appendix to the Guidance.

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 and is within the heavy metal concentration limits.

Broadly, the Essential Requirements are:

* packaging volume and weight must be the minimum amount to maintain the necessary levels of safety, hygiene and acceptance for the packed product and for the consumer;
* packaging must be manufactured so as to permit reuse or recovery in accordance with specific requirements;
* noxious or hazardous substances in packaging must be minimised in emissions, ash or leachate from incineration or landfill;
* the aggregate heavy metal limits apply to cadmium, mercury, lead and hexavalent chromium in packaging or packaging components subject to some exemptions (for glass and plastic crates/pallets.

Packaging manufactured before 31 December 1994 and lawfully placed on the market before 31 December 1999 is excluded from these requirements.

The July 2013 draft edition of the guidance will be published in final form in October 2013.

[ Page updated: 08/08/2013]

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