Packaging requirements

Packaging for products to be placed on the market in the EU must be designed to specific standards.

These regulations apply to any businesses that are involved in packaging production, or which use packaging or sell packaged goods. They must be followed by all businesses which handle over 50 tonnes of packaging per year or have an annual turnover of more than £2 million.


Packaging regulations focus on two key points. One is to encourage businesses to design packaging which reduces waste and maximises potential for recycling, and another is to push businesses to recycle more packaging - the EU Directive requires that each member state must recycle at least 60% of its packaging waste.

However, there is no legal requirement to use recycled materials in packaging. There are limits to the amount of heavy metals and noxious substances which can be used in packaging, and all packaging must use 'the minimum amount of packaging that is sufficient for the packaging requirements of the product'.

A useful summary of the legislation can be found in this Seafish guidance note, which contains more specific information about heavy metal limits, recycling targets, and what exactly constitutes 'excessive' packaging.


And the legislation…