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Packaging and packaging waste

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What we the Welsh Government, and the UK Government are doing to reduce the amount of packaging and packaging waste.

10.8 million tonnes of packaging waste was produced in the UK in 2009 with 67% recovered and 62% recycled. The amount has increased since 2007 but more is being recycled and recovered. The UK has met the Directive target for 2009. But we still need to reduce the amount of packaging waste (without compromising the product it protects) and increase the amount that is recycled and recovered.

The EC Directive on Packaging and Packaging Waste (2007) seeks to reduce the environmental impact of packaging and packaging waste by:

  • introducing recovery and recycling targets 
  • encouraging minimisation and reuse.

The regulations require businesses to recover and recycle packaging if they:

  • handle more than 50 tonnes of packaging a year
  • have a turnover in excess of £2million per annum.

The amount each business has to recover depends on:

  • the amount of packaging the business handles
  • the business recovery and recycling targets for the year
  • the activity the business carries out on packaging.

Businesses can register with the environmental regulator in Wales, Natural Resources Wales (external link) or join a registered compliance scheme.


We are working to:

  • minimise the amount of packaging used and the amount of packaging waste produced
  • ensure that a high proportion of packaging materials are recovered and recycled.

Recovery and recycling targets are set for UK businesses. These targets help the UK meet the targets in the EU Directive. Current targets set can be found on the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs website (external link) (Defra).

Contacts and further information

Our strategies and actions for packaging reduction and recycling in Wales are outlined in Towards Zero Waste and accompanying sector plans. These reflect our sustainable development scheme.

If you have any queries, you can contact us by e-mail at:

We work with the UK Government and other devolved administrations to ensure a common and consistent approach through out the UK. More information about work on Packaging and Packaging Waste at a UK level can be found on the Defra website.

“Making the Most of Packaging” is the UK strategy published by UK Government and the Devolved Administrations. It sets a clear direction for UK packaging policy for the next ten years.

Further business support on UK regulations associated with packaging and packaging waste can be found on the Business Wales (external link)