Disclaimer: The information contained in the guide below is intended to facilitate your understanding of the main provisions of the European Union Packaging Regulations 2014 and should not be taken as a legal interpretation.
The European Union Packaging Regulations 2014 promote the recovery of specified packaging waste. The Regulations impose obligations on all producers, including manufacturers, importers, distributors, wholesalers and retailers, who in the course of business supply packaging to the Irish market.
These Regulations came into effect on the 20th June 2014 and replaced all preceding Packaging Regulations.
Essential requirements for all producers of packaging
Under these Regulations, all producers must not supply packaging unless the packaging complies with the requirements of the "Essential Requirements".
The "Essential Requirements" have been designed specifically to reduce the environmental impact of packaging and to avoid over-packaging:
- Packaging weight and volume should be minimised to the amount needed for safety, hygiene and acceptance of the packed product
- Packaging must be recoverable and be suitable for recycling, energy recovery, composting, or reuse
- Levels of specified noxious materials must not exceed 100 parts per million and should have minimum impact on the environment at end of life after recycling or energy recovery
Refer to the Fourth Schedule of the Regulations for more information on the essential requirements.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do the Regulations affect my Business?
The Regulations impose obligations on all Producers who in the course of their business supply packaging to the Irish market.
All Producers of packaging are obliged to separate it at source into specific waste streams (aluminium, fibreboard, glass, paper, plastic sheeting, steel and wood) and to arrange for its recovery, or return the used packaging to the Supplier, if applicable.
What is meant by the term "supply" in relation to packaging material, packaging and packaged products?
"Supply" means providing any packaging, packaging material or packaged products in the course of business, in exchange for any consideration including money or giving as a prize or gift. It also includes any packaging removed from a product by or on behalf of the Producer, either at the point of sale or immediately preceding the point of sale, or at the point of delivery or immediately preceding the point of delivery.
The Regulations place obligations on "Producers" and "Major Producers" of packaging.
What is meant by the term "Producer" of Packaging?
A Producer is a person who in the course of business supplies packaging material to the Irish market.
A Producer is required to segregate waste on-site for recycling/recovery purposes.
What is meant by the term "Major Producer" of Packaging Waste? I do not produce or make anything therefore I am not "producer" of packaging
Your company is a "Major Producer" of packaging if you had a turnover of more than €1m in the preceding calendar year, based on audited accounts, and you supply more than 10 tonnes of packaging on the Irish market per annum.
Additional obligations are placed on Major Producers including the requirement to either register with Cork City Council or with the compliance scheme Repak.
I do not know the volume of Waste Packaging which my Business supplies. What must I do?
You will need to have an audit carried out to accurately measure the weight of packaging supplied. The audit must be carried out by a Competent Person.
A Competent Person may be one of the following:
- An Independent Person engaged by the company to ensure compliance with their statutory obligations under the regulations (i.e. an external Environmental Consultant)
- A Qualified Auditor i.e. a professional accountant who is qualified to carry out an independent examination of a company's records and/or financial accounts
- A Director of the company (if a registered company)
- The Manager of the company (if not a registered company)
Cork City Council has pre-approved the following list of Competent Persons (click on link below):
Should you wish to nominate/engage a Competent Person for the preparation of the packaging report outside of this list, please contact the Waste Enforcement Section, Cork City Council in advance for written approval of same.
Remember: This issue is only relevant if your turnover was more than €1m in the preceding calendar year.
I am a Major Producer. What are my options?
You can become a "Self-Complier" by registering with Cork City Council, if your premise is within its administrative area.
You can join the compliance scheme Repak.
- Register each year with Cork City Council in respect of each premise (which is located in Cork City Council's functional area)
- Pay an annual fee of €15 per tonne of packaging waste supplied. There is a minimum fee of €500 and a maximum fee of €15,000
- Provide adequate facilities for the public, free of charge, for the acceptance, segregation and storage of packaging waste at your premises
- Display a notice at each entrance advertising take-back facilities
- Prepare a Three Year Implementation Plan specifying the steps to be taken to comply with the regulations
- Advertise take-back facilities in newspapers twice yearly
- Submit quarterly reports on packaging received, supplied and recovered
- Submit an Annual Report each year reporting on packaging received, supplied and recovered over the previous twelve months.
- Make the above plans/reports available to the public on request.
- Arrange for the collection of packaging on request to anyone whom the Major Producer supplies.
Importers/Pack-fillers are obliged to accept/collect specified weights of packaging each quarter.
Repak is an approved body under the Regulations. If you choose to become a Repak member, you will be required to pay an annual fee. In return, you will be discharged from the obligations placed on Self-compliers, including the requirement to take back packaging waste.
Contact details for Repak are provided below:
Repak Ltd., Redcow Interchange Estate, 1 Ballymount Road, Dublin 22.
Tel: 01-4670190 Fax: 01 - 4670197
I am not a Major Producer. What must I do?
You must provide evidence to Cork City Council to support your claim. Examples include:
- A copy of your audited accounts for the preceding year, or a statement from your accountant confirming your turnover for the previous year.
- A report from a Packaging Audit carried out by a Competent Person showing that you supplied 10 tonnes or less to the market. There are four categories of "competent" persons as explained in the previous Question "I do not know the volume of Waste Packaging which my Business supplies. What must I do"?
(Remember: You do not need to undertake a Packaging Audit if you can demonstrate that your turnover in the preceding calendar year was €1m or less).
My registered company owns multiple premises. Is each one considered separately?
What happens if I do not comply with the Regulations?
Failure to comply with these Regulations is an offence and can result in a fine and/or prosecution. A person found guilty of an offence shall be liable:
- On summary conviction to a fine not exceeding €4,000 and/or imprisonment of up 12 months
- On conviction on indictment to a fine not exceeding €15,000,000 and/or imprisonment for up to 10 years.
Where can I get a copy of these Regulations?
A copy of the Regulations can be found at the following link:
What is the role of Cork City Council?
Cork City Council is responsible for enforcing the legislation within its functional area and must ensure that every business is in full compliance. It has general powers to inspect all business premises, and other powers such as the power to request any relevant documentation or a Packaging Report.
For the most up-to-date registration forms or further information on your obligations under these Regulations please contact:
Tony T. O’Sullivan,
Waste Enforcement Section,
Cork City Council,