Packaging and packaging waste management

Packaging producer obligations - compliance schemes


You must comply with packaging producer responsibility obligations if your business handles more than 50 tonnes of packaging in a calendar year and has a turnover of more than £2 million (based on the previous financial year).

You can either join a compliance scheme or follow the allocation method.

Join a compliance scheme

A registered packaging compliance scheme takes on your business' statutory recovery and recycling obligations by:

  • registering your business with the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA)
  • carrying out your recovery and recycling obligations
  • providing electronic packaging recovery notes (ePRNs) and packaging export recovery notes (ePERNs) to the NIEA
  • reporting on compliance to the NIEA

ePRNs are issued electronically by accredited reprocessors who accept packaging waste and issue an evidence note stating how much packaging waste they have recovered or recycled. ePERNs are issued electronically by accredited exporters when packaging waste is exported to approved reprocessors outside the UK.

Once you have registered with a compliance scheme, you must:

  • supply the scheme with relevant information, for example the amount of packaging you handle
  • pay a fee - this normally includes a reduced registration fee that the scheme pays to the NIEA

The Environment Agency provides a list of packaging compliance schemes for the UK through the National Packaging Waste Database.

If your main packaging activity is selling packaging or packaged goods, you must provide information to your customers about:

  • reusing, recovering and recycling packaging
  • the collection facilities available to them

Follow the allocation method

If you have a turnover of less than £5 million each year you can comply with your obligations by following the allocation method.

Instead of having to collect detailed information about the amount of packaging you handle, your recycling and recovery obligation is based on your turnover and the main packaging material you handle.

This is a voluntary method. If you choose to use the allocation method, you must follow it for at least three years.

If your turnover exceeds £5 million a year in this period you must stop using the allocation method and join a compliance scheme or follow the individual route to comply with your packaging waste obligations.