The Packaging (Essential Requirements) Regulations require businesses to ensure that all packaging does not exceed what is needed to make sure that the products are safe, hygienic and acceptable for both the packed product and for the consumer. They are also required to ensure that it is recyclable (which includes compostable under specific conditions) or recoverable at end of life. These Regulations apply to those responsible for the packing or filling products into packaging and those importing packed or filled packaging into the UK from elsewhere.
The Government is committed to increasing recycling rates. Current policies and regulations have resulted in a significant increase in recycling over the last decade, with recycling of packaging rising from around 46% in 2005 to 59% in 2014, but we recognise that more needs to be done. The targets for plastic and glass packaging are set to increase up to 2020 and we recently consulted on possible increases for other materials.
Working through the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), the Government is developing and delivering activities in support of the use of recycled materials in new products and activities to stimulate its demand. In September last year, WRAP and an industry advisory group published a framework for greater consistency in recycling. Actions from this framework aim to identify opportunities to rationalise packaging formats (in particular plastic packaging) to those that are recyclable and for which there is a steady market, and to help local authorities to recycle a greater variety of plastics.