Packaging waste: become a packaging producer compliance scheme (PCS)
How to apply for PCS approval, register, take on packaging producer responsibilities and comply under the approval.
PCSs provide a service for packaging producers. The producers join a scheme as members and, for a charge, the PCS takes on their packaging producer legal obligations.
Packaging PCS: apply for approval
If your business is in England you need to contact the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to ask for approval to operate a scheme from the Secretary of State.
If your business is in:
- Wales, the National Assembly for Wales approves
- Scotland, the Scottish Ministers approve
- Northern Ireland, the Department of the Environment approves
Approved or appropriate person
You must be an approved or appropriate person to sign applications for PCS approval and registration and to submit data and declaration of compliance statements. The approved or appropriate person must be one of the following legal entities:
- a director or company secretary of a company registered in the UK
- a partner in a partnership
- an individual operating as a sole trader
- a person who has control or management of the business
Once approved you need to get an account set up on the National Packaging Waste Database (NPWD) so you can register your scheme.
If your business is in England email email@example.com to get a login.
If your business is in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland you need to ask for a login from your relevant environmental regulator.
- register your scheme and members details on NPWD by the 15 April each year
- prepare an operational plan each year, upload it to the NPWD by the 15 April in the schemes first year and by the 31 January for all following years
- provide full details of the agreement for the constitution of the scheme including any rules or regulations the members must follow
- provide a statement of the schemes policies, which should include:
- details of the steps it will take to increase the use of recycled packaging waste in the manufacture of products or materials supplied by its members
- the methods by which packaging waste will be recovered and recycled through the scheme
- information about the steps the user or consumer may take to help the scheme apply these methods
- pay the appropriate fee
When you submit your registration the relevant environmental regulator will assess your application. They may ask you for more information. You will be notified of the decision within 28 days.
- meet the recovery and recycling obligations for all your members, and Consumer Information Obligations where applicable
- submit a yearly statement of compliance confirming how you’ve met your members’ recovery and recycling obligations and Consumer Information Obligations
- give advice and guidance to your members about waste packaging recycling and recovery responsibilities to ensure they fulfil their duties
Telephone: 03708 506 506
Producer Responsibility Regulatory Services (PRRS)
99 Parkway Avenue
Parkway Business Park
Telephone: 07786 457700
Producer Compliance and Waste Shipment Unit
Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA)
Castle Business Park
Telephone: 028 9056 9387
Producer Responsibility Unit
Northern Ireland Environment Agency
Gasworks Business Park
Lower Ormeau Road
Telephone: 0300 065 3000
Producer Responsibility Unit
Natural Resources Wales
St Mellons Business Park
Penalties for non-compliance
It’s a condition of your registration that you comply with your operational plan.
If you don’t, your environmental regulator may cancel your registration.
For the most serious offences you may face prosecution under criminal law. In England and Wales there are also civil penalties. These include:
- fixed penalty fines for minor offences
- higher fines for a more serious offence
- an enforcement undertaking – an offer, formally accepted by your environment regulator (in England it is the Environment Agency, or Natural Resources Wales), that redresses the impact of your non-compliance
Operational plans: detailed guidance
An operational plan sets out how a packaging compliance scheme (PCS) or large packaging producer will meet their recovery and recycling obligation.
Your environmental regulator will send you a template to use as part of your operational plan.
Through the year the environmental regulators check the NPWD to see if the evidence recorded matches the operational plans. If they notice a difference, they will contact you for an explanation and possibly ask for an updated plan.
Whenever there are significant changes to your plan, you must update it and resubmit it to relevant environmental regulator via the NPWD. Highlight the changes.
- obligation – if the change is 10% more than the original obligation, 10% more of a material-specific obligation or 100,000 more tonnes
- how you will buy evidence notes
What to include:
You need to show:
- you have enough funds to buy evidence notes to meet your obligation
- your estimate of electronic packaging recovery notes (ePRNs) and electronic packaging export recovery notes (ePERNs) costs, by material
- you have sufficient borrowing resources if needed – provide supporting evidence like a bank letter confirming overdraft facilities or a statement from a holding or related company confirming financial support
- your plans for managing price fluctuations or shortages of ePRNs and ePERNs or any sudden rise in your obligation
- what proportion of ePRNs or ePERNs you intend to buy from ‘spot markets’
- your invoicing system, including when you invoice and your cash flow arrangements
You must also show an effective and efficient method of invoicing members.
Name the people in your business with the knowledge and experience to manage packaging waste regulations compliance. You must name the person who has ultimate responsibility for compliance.
You need to include:
- the address where each named person works
- their related qualifications and/or experience of managing packaging regulations compliance
- details of staff training to ensure they stay updated on changes and developments in the regulations
- contingency arrangements for when your named staff are unavailable – explain who covers their duties during illness, holidays or other absence
Let your environmental regulator know if you have staff changes that will affect your operational plan.
Waste strategy awareness statement
Include a statement to show how your company is working towards the national waste strategy of the UK country where you do business.
How you will buy ePRNs/ePERNs to meet your obligation
You may use one or more of these ways:
- buy UK packaging waste and send it to a reprocessor in exchange for ePRNs or ePERNs
- deliver your own or your members’ waste packaging to a reprocessor or exporter in exchange for ePRNs or ePERNs
- buy ePRN or ePERNs from a reprocessor or exporter
- use ePRNs or ePERNs provided by a compliance scheme member
If you don’t know your obligation when you create your operational plan, estimate using last year’s obligation. Make provision for any changes to your business, such as new scheme members or business growth.
Sources of evidence
For all planned sources of evidence include:
- material type
Reprocessors and exporters
Any reprocessor or exporter you intend to buy ePRN or ePERN from must be accredited for this activity.
List all the site names and addresses you plan to use.
If you don’t have adequate arrangements in place with reprocessors or exporters by the time you submit your plan, you risk falling short of your obligation and becoming non-compliant.
Other packaging waste sources
State if you are intending to obtain packaging waste from:
- household waste
- industrial or commercial waste
- producer waste
- waste collection or disposal authorities
Provide the proportion of packaging waste collected from these specified sources you will use to meet your obligation.
If you plan to use another source, say what it is.
Three year recovery and recycling plans
You have a recovery obligation and, within this, material-specific recycling obligations. Overall you must ensure 92% of your recovery obligation is recycled.
In your plan state in tonnes the packaging waste you plan to:
- recover in the 3 years immediately following registration
- recycle in the 3 years immediately following registration
If you don’t expect your obligations or your ePRN or ePERN profile to change greatly in the second and third years, say so.
Avoid adverse effects
Describe how you will avoid conflict of interest with any other compliance scheme or producer.
You should not buy more evidence notes than your estimated obligation. In the exceptional circumstances that you do, you should state why.
Specify any contracts you have, or expect to have, to help achieve your evidence target. State:
- if the contract is formal (provided by solicitors), written, or another form of binding agreement
- the contract duration
- tonnage it covers over the next 3 years
You don’t have to have contracts in place between you and any accredited reprocessor, exporter, or supplier of packaging waste. If you don’t, you must state how you will get the evidence you need in the next 3 years. The larger your obligation, the more likely you are to achieve it if you do have contracts in place.
If you contract with a third party, like a broker, to help buy your evidence, use them in a balanced way – if you have a big obligation don’t rely on them as your main route for buying evidence notes.
Include a statement explaining how you will help reprocessors and exporters fulfil their responsibility to reinvest income from evidence to:
- encourage market growth for materials and goods made from recycled waste packaging
- increase capacity for collecting and reprocessing waste packaging
Also state how you will check how reprocessors and exporters use ePRNs and ePERNs income.
For example, if they are using the income to support prices, explain how you verify the benefit to market growth and development, or the capacity for collecting and reprocessing waste packaging. Where possible, include measureable evidence like tonnages, and explain how the quality of waste packaging collected is increasing. If you are working with reprocessors or exporters to do this, say how.
eEPRN and ePERNs procurement
Compliance schemes and large producers must complete the template provided by your environmental regulator.
Enter figures showing what you plan to do for each quarter of the year, don’t simply divide your obligation across the four quarters.
If you run more than one compliance scheme you will need to supply figures for each.
Only put general recycling procurement data in the general recycling column, not in the material-specific columns. Enter the data only when you are sure you have met at least one material-specific obligation.
It’s good practice to buy the evidence notes you need steadily through the year. If you don’t, you risk failing to meet your obligation. There may not be enough evidence notes available to buy at the end of the year.
Only compliance schemes need provide this and as a separate document to your operational plan.
The aim of the monitoring plan is to show how you check the accuracy of your members’ information. Your environmental regulator may ask to see evidence of your checks and the results.
Describe how you select members
State whether you:
- carry out member site inspections, use only desk research, or both
- check basic information only, like addresses and company registration numbers, or if you also check waste packaging data
- compare information checked at registration with information checked later in the year
- check all members during a compliance year or only a selection – explain your risk criteria or other method of choosing which members you check
- details of staff who check your members’ information, with their qualifications and experience
- your timetable for carrying out checks
Explain what checks you carry out
You need to include:
- what information you verify through desk research
- what information you verify during a site visit
- how many members you plan to visit in the compliance year or check using desk research and what proportion of your membership they represent
- how many members you checked in the last compliance year, state whether this was by visit or using desk research and what proportion of your membership was checked
- how you verify turnover information provided by small producer members – as minimum proof you need audited accounts, or an annual account signed by the company accountant or financial director
- how you verify data submitted by members that are company groups – this includes how they collect data from subsidiaries
- how you check new member details and verify accuracy
Explain results and record-keeping
You need to include:
- numbers of members asked to resubmit data
- how you record your checks for both site visits and desk research – for example, do you keep a visit log, checklists, or produce reports
- how you keep this information and for how long
Code of practice
This does not apply in Northern Ireland.
The Code of Practice was established by the packaging compliance schemes sector and sets out a range of operational standards. These standards set out best practices and also enable schemes to meet, and in some cases go beyond, the minimum required to comply with the regulatory requirements.
If you sign up to the code, explain how you intend to do this, either within your operational plan or as a separate document.
Legislation and regulations
See packaging and packaging waste legislation and regulations:
- Packaging & Packaging Waste European Directive (94/62/EC)
- Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations 2007
- The Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) (Amendment) Regulations 2008
- The Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) (Amendment No. 2) Regulations 2008
- The Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) (Amendment) Regulations 2010
- Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) (Amendment) Regulations 2012
- The Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) (Amendment) Regulations 2013
- The Packaging (Essential Requirements) Regulations
Published: 9 May 2014
Updated: 26 February 2016
- New text that explains what an approved person is and a link to the delegation of approved/appropriate person form.
- First published.