Environmental regulations

Guidance for producers.


The Environment Regulations team is responsible for so-called ‘extended producer responsibility’ regulations that derive from European legislation.

These regulations ensure that producers of specific categories of products and equipment take full responsibility for the finance treatment, recycling and reprocessing of these items when they reach end of life and is consistent with requirements agreed in Europe.

The team also works with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to ensure that the interests of business are taken into account in development of wider waste and recycling policy and on the natural environment in areas such as air and water quality.

For more information email:

Review of UK’s Producer Responsibility Regulations

The UK’s Producer Responsibility Regulations deliver the legislative framework for meeting our EU obligations to recover and recycle a proportion of the waste batteries, packaging, electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) and vehicles placed on the UK market.

These regulations deliver important environmental savings helping the UK to become more resource efficient and reducing its carbon impact.

We believe that the way in which these regulations work could be improved in order to optimise their effectiveness and reduce the administrative burdens they place on business.

As part of the government’s commitment to improving regulation, Defra and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) are currently reviewing all Producer Responsibility Regulations.

Over the course of the next few months both departments will be listening to ideas from stakeholders on how these could be improved and considering ideas for how the departments can work better together. Formal consultations will take place later in the year.

For further information or to submit comments on the review, please contact Defra or BIS. Updates will also be posted online at the Environment Agency in due course.

Batteries and accumulators – collection and recycling

The Batteries and Accumulators and Waste Batteries and Accumulators Directive (2006/66/EC) aims to improve the environmental performance of batteries and accumulators and minimise the impact that waste batteries and accumulators have on the environment.

The directive places requirements on the design of all new batteries, and requires the separate collection, treatment and recycling of waste batteries and accumulators, reducing the disposal of batteries and accumulators in the municipal waste stream.

Key requirements of the directive

The directive calls for:

  • restrictions on the use of cadmium and mercury in the design and manufacture of new batteries
  • labelling requirements – all new batteries to be marked with a crossed out wheeled bin symbol and the appropriate chemical symbol where applicable and selected types of battery are also required to have a capacity label
  • registration of all ‘producers’ eg manufacturers or importers of batteries
  • collection targets for waste portable batteries of 25% of average annual sales in the UK by 2012, (achieved), rising to 45% in 2016
  • a ban on the disposal of untreated automotive and industrial batteries
  • a requirement for producers or third parties acting on their behalf to arrange for the collection and recycling of waste industrial and automotive batteries

BIS is the lead UK government department for the Batteries Directive. Specifically, BIS leads on the internal market (or design) provisions of the directive, and the environmental provisions of the directive with respect to waste industrial and automotive batteries.

Defra leads on policy relating to the waste provisions of the directive with regards to waste portable batteries. There are 2 sets of UK regulations: the 2008 regulations deal with internal market aspects, whilst the 2009 regulations address waste battery collection and recycling issues.

Who is affected?

The UK Batteries Regulations place legal obligations on:

  • producers of batteries and products that contain batteries
  • distributors (retailers) of batteries
  • facilities that treat and/or export waste batteries, including products that contain waste batteries

The requirements apply to all businesses irrespective of size. However, there are some differences in obligations, depending upon the quantity and type of batteries that a business puts on the market or distributes.

The regulations also have some impact upon consumers and local authorities (when they deal with waste batteries).

BIS/Defra have produced detailed guidance to help you determine whether the regulations affect you and what you should do if you have obligations.

The Environment Agency also offers guidance on battery producer registration and associated collection obligations. It also provides guidance for waste battery treatment facilities and exporters.

In addition, further advice to business is available at Battery waste: producer and supplier responsibilities.

Latest developments

The Batteries Directive has been amended to ban the use of cadmium in batteries for cordless power tools from 31 December 2016. It also prohibits battery button cells containing mercury from 1 October 2015. Batteries placed on the market before the bans come into place can still be sold until stocks run out.

New UK regulations will be introduced on 1 July 2015 to reflect these changes.

Details of the Commission Regulation setting out the rules for capacity labelling of portable secondary and automotive batteries can be found on the European Commission website.

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UK batteries regulations

End of life vehicles


The EC ELV Directive (2000/53/EC) aims to reduce the amount of waste from cars and light goods vehicles when they are scrapped. In particular it:

  • includes tightened environmental standards for vehicle treatment sites
  • requires that last owners must be able to dispose of their vehicles free of charge
  • sets rising reuse, recycling and recovery targets
  • restricts the use of hazardous substances in both new vehicles and replacement vehicle parts

The UK has transposed the directive through its ELV Regulations 2003, 2005 and 2010.

The 2003 regulations put in place most of the requirements of the directive, including:

  • the improved standards for vehicle treatment sites (enforced by the relevant environment agency)
  • some new technical standards that apply to new vehicles (enforced by the Vehicle Certification Agency)
  • the establishment of a Certificate of Destruction (CoD) system (administered by the DVLA)

The remaining provisions of the directive were the subject of the 2005 regulations which set out the requirements for vehicle producers to have available networks of facilities where last owners of their brands of vehicles may take them for treatment and recycling at the end of their lives (enforced by BIS).

These facilities are required to provide this service free of charge to the last owner (provided vehicles are largely complete and have not had extra waste added).

The 2 sets of 2010 regulations make some amendments to the 2003 and 2005 regulations.

Am I affected?

The ELV Regulations place legal obligations on:

  • producers of cars and/or light goods vehicles under European Whole Vehicle Type Approval categories M1 and N1 (ie manufacturers and professional importers of these types of vehicle)
  • producers of replacement components for such vehicles
  • facilities that treat end of life vehicles and materials/components from them (including vehicles not in the categories mentioned above)

The requirements apply to all businesses irrespective of size. There are no exemptions for small and medium-sized companies. However, there are some differences in the vehicle producers’ obligations depending on the quantity of vehicles that a business places on the market. The regulations also have some impact upon last owners of vehicles and local authorities (when they deal with abandoned vehicles).


Consumer information

General advice on vehicle ownership, including disposing of vehicles, is available at Driving, transport and travel.

This explains the importance of using an Authorised Treatment Facility (ATF) to dispose of your vehicle and issue you with a Certificate of Destruction (CoD) which shows that the vehicle has been correctly dealt with and that you are no longer responsible for it.


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Fluorinated greenhouse gases

Regulation (EC) No 842/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council on certain fluorinated greenhouse gases

The principle objective of EC Regulation No 842/2006 on certain fluorinated greenhouse gases (F-gases) (The EC regulation) is to contain, prevent and thereby reduce emissions of F-gases.

As well as the EC regulation, there are 10 Commission regulations which establish fleshed out legal requirements for companies and qualifications for personnel working in 5 industry sectors covered by the EC regulation as well as dealing with other requirements relating to leakage checking, reporting and labelling.

The UK has transposed the EC regulation through its 2009 GB F-gas Regulation, which came into force in March 2009.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is the lead government department on F-gas policy. The Department for Transport (DfT) lead on the use of F-gases in mobile air conditioning systems in motor vehicles through the Mobile Air Conditioning (MAC) Directive.


The EC Regulation (No 842/2006) on certain F-gases The MAC Directive The 2009 GB F-gas Regulations

Who is affected by the EC F-gas Regulation?

The containment and recovery articles in the EC regulation impact the commercial refrigeration, air-conditioning and heat pump sectors and the fire protection sector.

It also impacts the personnel involved in the installation, servicing and recovery of F-gases from these systems, as well as from equipment containing F gas based solvents, high voltage switchgear and fire extinguishers.

Operators of relevant systems have a range of obligations including prompt leakage repair, leakage checking and record keeping and ensuring qualified personnel are used.

The EC regulation will potentially impact a wider range of F-gas users other than those set out above due to the recovery obligation in Article 4.3.

It will also impact upon producers, importers and exporters of F-gases if they produce, import or export more than 1 tonne of F-gases per annum as they will have to report to the Commission and member states’ competent authorities on the amounts produced, imported and exported.

In addition, specified products and equipment that contain F-gases will be subject to labelling requirements and specific uses of F-gases and products that contain F-gases are controlled or banned by the EC regulation.

These cover certain uses of sulphur hexafluoride for magnesium diecasting, use of certain F-gases in non-refillable containers, fire protection systems, tyres, one component foams, novelty aerosols, footwear and windows and self chilling cans.

Guidance and interpretation

The Commission has produced a guidance and interpretation document that provides the view of the Commission Services on various issues of the EC regulation as a result of discussions with member states. This should not be considered as a legally binding document.

The Commission will update the guidance and interpretation document as new issues arise.

Commission’s guidance and interpretation paper on certain issues arising from EC Regulation No. 842/2006 on certain fluorinated greenhouse gases

UK government guidance and F-Gas Support

Key obligations in the regulation have applied in the UK and the rest of the EU since 4 July 2007. The government is continuing to work with stakeholders to ensure that the EC Regulation is successfully implemented and its environmental objectives achieved.

Information sheets have been published which provide guidance on compliance with the EC regulation in relation to individual industry sectors.

Defra is working closely with BSI, The Environment Agency, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, LACORS (Local Authorities’ Coordinators of Regulatory Services) and the devolved administrations (DAs) to prepare for the implementation of a risk based enforcement approach to the EC regulation and the 2009 GB Regulations that creates offences and penalties for failure to comply.

F-Gas Support is a government-funded team set up to help organisations understand their obligations under both the EC F-gas and ozone regulations.

They will also be working with councils and national regulators to promote compliance with these important environmental regulations. F-Gas Support is being run on behalf of Defra and the DAs by LACORS and Enviros.


Anyone who would like to be included on our F-gas stakeholder list for invites to stakeholder meetings or occasional mailings on the EC or GB F-gas regulations should send their details to:

Enquiries relating to F-gas should be sent to:

F-Gas Support
PO Box 481
Salford, M50 3UD

Telephone helpline: 0161 874 3663 Email:

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Ozone and F-gas Team Steven Cowperthwaite Telephone: 0207 238 3179 Email:


Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive

The Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (94/62/EC) is a single market measure, with environmental goals. The directive applies to all packaging placed on the market within the EU, and all packaging waste - whether disposed of at industrial or commercial sites, or from private homes.


The Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (94/62/EC) requires:

  • packaging to be minimised
  • packaging be designed for recovery and re-use.
  • recovery targets to be met by the UK for waste packaging.
  • heavy metals in packaging to be restricted

Responsibility for packaging is split between 2 government departments:

BIS leads on EU Directive single market and UK Packaging (Essential Requirements) Regulations. These are enforced by Trading Standards: Trading Standards.

Defra leads on broader UK waste and packaging policy and the UK Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations.


Am I affected ?

The Packaging Essential Requirements Regulations require by law that the person responsible for packaging or filling products into packaging or importing packed or filled packaging into the UK, may only place that packaging on the market if it fulfils the essential requirements and is within the heavy metal concentration limits. UK guidance for business on the regulations can be found below.

‘Packaging (Essential Requirements) Regulations: quick start guide’

‘Packaging (Essential Requirements) Regulations: full guidance’

Consumer information

For advice and information on packaging reduction, disposing of waste packaging and how to report excess packaging to Trading Standards, see the Citizens Advice website.


Eco-design and Product Regulation Unit
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS)
1 Victoria Street

Tel. + 44 (0)20 7215 5000 Fax. + 44 (0)20 7215 2635 Email:

Producer Responsibility Unit,
Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Ergon House, Horseferry Road

Tel. +44 (0)20 7238 6000 Fax. +44 (0)20 7238 4857 Email:


The directive has been transposed into UK law by 2 regulations:

  • The Packaging (Essential Requirements) Regulations 2003 (as amended)
  • The Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations 2007 (as amended)

Packaging (Essential Requirements) Regulations

The regulations set out the requirements that all items of packaging must meet before being placed on the UK market. The essential requirements are, in summary:

  • packing volume and weight must be the minimum amount to maintain necessary levels of safety, hygiene and acceptance for the packed product and for the consumer
  • noxious or hazardous substances in packaging must be minimised in emissions, ash or leachate from incineration or landfill
  • packaging must be manufactured so as to permit reuse or recovery in accordance with specific requirements

The regulations are enforced by Trading Standards on behalf of BIS. They can investigate complaints of excessive packaging and can offer guidance on specific packaging products and proving compliance.

Methodological standards have been developed which can be used to help comply with essential requirements. Full details of the standards are available from (BSI) British Standards Institute).

Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations

The UK meets the Packaging Directive’s recycling and recovery targets for packaging waste through these regulations, which are based on the principle of the producer responsibility.

Companies above the threshold of a £2 million annual turnover and handling more than 50 tonnes of packaging a year pay for a certain proportion of the UK obligations to recycle packaging.

Companies fulfil their obligation by buying Packaging Waste Recovery Notes (PRNs) or Packaging Waste Export Recovery Notes (PERNs).

These have a market value which can fluctuate in relation to demand for the notes in relation to the supply of recycled material; the UK recycling targets set for that year; and the amount of PRNs/PERNs companies or compliance schemes already purchased

Companies can join a compliance scheme to deal with their obligation for them, or directly register with enforcement authorities: the Environment Agency (in England and Wales), Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (Scotland) or Environment and Heritage Service (Northern Ireland). Further information is available on the Defra website.

Advisory Committee on Packaging (ACP)

The government set up the ACP to advise Defra and BIS on policy development relating to the Packaging Waste Regulations. The ACP is chaired by, and composed of industry representatives from across the packaging chain, with enforcement agencies and other government officials taking part.

Details of the ACP, appointments and details of sub-committees and working groups are available on the Defra website.

EU background

The Packaging Directive aims to:

  • harmonise national measures so as to prevent or reduce the impacts of packaging on the environment of all member states and third countries and to remove obstacles to trade and distortion and restriction of competition
  • prevent the production of packaging waste, and reduce the amount of waste for final disposal through packaging re-use, recycling and other forms of recovery

European targets

The recover and recycling targets set by the original directive for packaging waste were revised in 2004 by an amending Directive 2004/12/EC, increasing the recycling targets to be by member states by 2008 to 60% overall recovery of packaging waste; 55% minimum to 80% maximum recycling of packaging waste.

The amending Directive also set material specific recycling targets be weight, as follows: glass (60%), paper and board (60%), metals (50%), plastics (22.5%), and wood (15%). The UK achieved these targets at the end of 2008 and in some cases exceeded them, but must now at least maintain these levels.

Commission reports on implementation of the directive

In December 2006, the European Commission announced that the recycling and recovery targets contained on the Packaging Directive are currently optimal and proposed these should remain stable to enable all the member states to catch-up with these targets.

A study by Commission appointed consultants on the implementation of the directive’s essential requirements was published in 2010.

Article 21 Committee

The Article 21 Committee is the Directive’s Technical Adaptation Committee (TAC) established by Article 21 of the Packaging Directive. It is chaired by the European Commission and its members are national experts of each member state.

The committee meets once every 12-18 months to discuss issues on harmonisation and implementation of the directive.

BIS makes public its unofficial notes from these meetings which are distributed via an BIS electronic mailing list. To be added to this list please email

Waste electrical and electronic equipment

The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations implement the main the provisions of the European WEEE Directive. The broad aim of the directive is to address the environmental impacts of unwanted electrical and electronic equipment at the end of its life.

The scope covers a wide range of products intended for household and/or commercial use that are dependent on electrical currents or electromagnetic fields to work properly. You can find the UK regulations here:


The WEEE Directive is one of a small number of European directives that implement the principle of ‘extended producer responsibility’. Under this principle, producers are required to take financial responsibility for the environmental impact of the products that they place on the market, specifically when those products become waste.

The directive seeks to reduce the amount of such waste going to landfill by encouraging separate collection and subsequent treatment, re-use, recovery, recycling and environmentally sound disposal.

Am I affected?

The WEEE Regulations place legal obligations on the following types of organisations that handle electrical equipment:

  • producers of household and non-household equipment (ie, manufacturers, professional importers or re-branders)
  • distributors to household-end users (eg retailers, internet and other distance sellers)
  • business end-users of electrical equipment
  • WEEE treatment facilities
  • exporters of WEEE

The requirements apply to all businesses irrespective of size. There are no exemptions for small and medium-sized companies. In addition the regulations also impact on local authorities, waste management companies and household consumers of electrical and electronic equipment.

BIS has produced detailed guidance to help you determine whether the regulations impact on you and where necessary what you must do to meet your legal obligations.

Producers of EEE

The obligations placed on producers of EEE and waste treatment facilities are enforced in England by the Environment Agency, in Wales by Natural Resources Wales, in Scotland by the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) and in Northern Ireland by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA). More information can be found on their websites.

The Vehicle Certification Agency(VCA) enforces the obligations placed on producers to mark their equipment with the ‘crossed out wheeled bin’ symbol.

Distributors of EEE

The VCA enforces the obligations placed on distributors. More information can be found on the VCA website.

Advice to consumers

All retailers of electrical equipment support the recycling, recovery and reuse of WEEE. Some retailers provide funding for your local authority recycling centre, other retailers take back waste electrical equipment in their stores for treatment. Your retailer should be able to advise you which of these two options they offer.

PAS 141

BIS worked with industry to establish PAS 141 - a process management specification for the reuse of electrical and electronic equipment. Valpak are the administrator for the scheme. View the Valpak website for more information.

PAS 141 encourages the reuse of WEEE as promoted by the WEEE Directive and reduces the amount of WEEE sent to landfill. It will assure consumers that used equipment has been tested, is prepared and safe to use, is functional, free of protected data and backed by a warranty.

WEEE latest developments

This section provides up-to-date information on current policy developments in Europe and the UK that are likely to impact on companies and organisations that have an interest in the UK regulations on waste electrical and electronic equipment.

New WEEE regulations

Following extensive consultation, new WEEE regulations were laid before Parliament in December 2013 and came into force on the 1 January 2014.


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Email for further information on the UK WEEE Regulations.

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