Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Packaging design and use - exemptions

Packaging design and use - exemptions from the regulations

If you are placing packaging on the EU market, under some conditions you may be exempt from some of the requirements of the Packaging (Essential Requirements) Regulations 2015. But you will still have to comply with the remaining requirements.

The requirement that packaging and packaging components put on the market must have no more than 100 parts per million by weight concentration total of regulated metals (lead, cadmium, mercury and hexavalent chromium) in the packaging and in any of its packaging components, does not apply in the following cases:

  1. packaging made entirely of lead crystal glass
  2. glass packaging, if some criteria are met
  3. recycled plastic crates or plastic pallets, if some criteria are met

 

1. Lead crystal glass packaging

The requirement on concentration of regulated metals does not apply to packaging made entirely of lead crystal glass. But you must comply with the other regulation requirement of keeping records and demonstrating compliance. Check "Packaging design and use – your environmental responsibilities" in this guide.

 

2. Glass packaging

Glass packaging may contain more than 100ppm of regulated metals (lead, cadmium, mercury and hexavalent chromium)  if:

  • no regulated metals have been intentionally introduced during manufacturing
  • the limits of regulated metals are only exceeded as a result of adding recycled materials which contain those heavy metals.

What you must do

  • You must submit a report to your enforcement authority whenever the average concentration levels of regulated metals on any 12 consecutive months, made from the production of each individual glass furnace, is larger than 200ppm. Your report must include details about the measurements, the suspected sources for the presence of heavy metals and the measures taken to reduce heavy metals concentration levels.
  • If requested by your enforcement authority, you must report on measurement results and methods used. You must submit this information within 28 days of the date of request.

You must comply with the remaining packaging requirements obligations. Check "Packaging design and use – your environmental responsibilities" in this guide.

The enforcement authorities for these regulations are:

 

3. Plastic pallets and plastic crates

Recycled plastic pallets and crates may contain more than 100ppm of regulated metals (lead, cadmium, mercury and hexavalent chromium) if:

- their manufacture is a controlled recycling process in which

  • the only recycling materials used are from other plastic crates and pallets, and the amount of other materials introduced is the minimum feasible and is no more than 20% by weight
  • no regulated metals are intentionally introduced during the manufacture
  • the limits in regulated metals are only exceeded as a result of adding recycled materials which contain those heavy metals;

- and their distribution and reuse system is a controlled process in which

  • no regulated metals are intentionally introduced during distribution
  • all plastic pallets and crates that regulated metals are marked in a permanent and visible way
  • you keep an inventory and full records, documenting the compliance with the conditions of the exemption and including return rates (percentage of pallets and crates that are returned, rather than discarded)
  • the return rate of the pallets and crates over their lifetime is at least 90 per cent
  • crates and pallets that are no longer reusable must be either disposed off through a procedure specifically authorised by your environment regulator, or used in a controlled recycling process as described above.

What you must do

- You must produce documents showing that you have met the conditions of the exemption

  • Every year, you must produce a “declaration of conformity”, including an annual report showing: that you met the conditions of the exemption, and what changes you have made to the process during the year.
  • You must keep each declaration of conformity for four years.
  • If the enforcement authority requests it, you must provide the declaration of conformity, inventory and records, within 28 days of the date of the request.

- You must comply with the remaining packaging requirements obligations. Check "Packaging design and use – your environmental responsibilities" in this guide.

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