Packaging and packaging waste management

Packaging producer obligations - individual route


To comply with your obligations as a packaging producer, you can calculate your own recycling and recovery requirements and register yourself with the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA). This is called the 'individual route' or 'direct registration'.

Assess how much packaging your business handles

To calculate your recovery and recycling obligations for the coming year, you need to assess:

  • the amount and type of packaging your business handled and supplied in the last calendar year
  • how you handled this packaging - manufacturing, filling, importing, etc

Make sure you include all the packaging that your business owns and handles, not just packaging waste that you produce.

To calculate your recovery and recycling obligations for each category of packaging material for the year, use the National Packaging Waste Database.

Register with the Northern Ireland Environment Agency

You must register with NIEA by 7 April each year. If you carry out activities in more than one part of the UK, you must register with each relevant environmental regulator. You can register online through the UK National Packaging Waste Database.

You must pay an annual registration fee to cover administration and monitoring costs.

Submit an operational plan

If your recovery and recycling obligation is more than 500 tonnes, you must submit an operational plan to NIEA. Your operational plan must show how you intend to comply with the regulations.

You must submit an operational plan with your first registration application. In subsequent years you should submit the operational plan by 31 January. If you do not submit your operational plan by 31 January, your application may be refused. You can submit your operational plan using the UK National Packaging Waste Database.

Recycle and recover packaging waste

Once you have calculated your obligation, you need evidence that an amount of packaging waste equivalent to your obligation has been recycled or recovered on your behalf. This evidence is in the form of electronic packaging waste recovery notes (ePRNs) and electronic packaging waste export recovery notes (ePERNs).

You can make sure that your packaging waste is recycled by using:

  • district council recycling collections
  • local community recycling organisations
  • commercial recycling contractors

Confirm you have met your recovery and recycling obligations

You must submit a certificate of compliance, signed by a partner, director, company secretary or other senior member of staff, to NIEA by 31 January each year.

You must provide copies of evidence of compliance to support your certificate. You can do this online using the National Packaging Waste Database.

The evidence you will need to provide must either be:

  • ePRNs - if they are issued by a UK reprocessor of packaging wastes
  • ePERNs - if they are issued by a UK exporter of packaging wastes

There are separate ePRNs and ePERNs for each type of packaging waste.

Accredited reprocessors and exporters will normally charge a fee for ePRNs and ePERNs. The cost of ePRNs and ePERNs is not set at a fixed rate, but depends on the relative supply and demand for evidence.

Provide information to customers

If your main packaging activity is selling packaging or finished goods in packaging to the final user or consumer, you must tell your customers about:

  • return, recovery and collection facilities available to them
  • how they can help to reuse, recover and recycle packaging, for example how to sort waste correctly or encourage the reuse of packaging

This is called the consumer information obligation.