Nipak Circular Economy

NI Packaging Waste Producer Obligations

Northern Ireland Waste Packaging Regulations aim to promote a more sustainable approach to packaging waste in Northern Ireland. They are designed to reduce the amount of packaging that local businesses introduce into the waste stream or consign to landfill and encourage reuse and recycling. Packaging regulations are built on the principal that the polluter pays. 

"Packaging is any material used to hold, protect, handle, deliver and present goods. This covers the whole packaging supply chain from the raw material to the finished goods."   (GOV.UK)
A producer is deemed to be a company or group that performs any of six specific activities on packaging or has those activities carried out on their behalf, and breaches government thresholds.

Reduce, reuse, recycle - better for the environment and for profitability

In the first instance producers should aim to reduce packaging use. This of course benefits both the environment and the bottom line. A waste packing audit is a good place to start. At Nipak we don't want to simply help you meet your obligations, we want to help you reduce them.

Activity, material and thresholds

The amount a producer much recover or recycle (or show evidence of same through Packaging Recovery Notes) depends on;

  • The amount of packaging material handled by a business

  • The position of the business in the supply chain (activity)

  • The targets set by local government for each material handled.

An obligated packaging producer is one that meets both the following criteria in the previous year;

  • Generated a turnover in excess of £2 million

  • Handled (performed activity on) 50 tonnes of packaging material

Activity performed on packaging

Packaging Activity Northern Ireland
  • Manufacture

  • Convert

  • Pack / fill

  • Sell

  • Import

  • Export

Material used in packaging

Packaging Material Northern Ireland
  • Paper

  • Wood

  • Plastic

  • Glass

  • Aluminium

  • Steel


Threshold & Registration

  • A business becomes obligated when it reaches the thresholds in the previous calendar year.
  • Obligated producers are legally required to register as a packaging producer.
  • Businesses can register by joining a compliance scheme such as Nipak or register directly.
  • Registration through Nipak is with the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA).

Data Management

  • Businesses must declare all primary and secondary packaging activities.
  • Packaging material handling must be calculated and declared by tonnage.
  • Data submitted by Nipak is held on the public register.

Packaging Recovery Evidence

  • Nipak will calculate the obligation based on the data registered.
  • The obligation is fulfilled by the purchase of Packaging Recovery Notes (PRNs).
  • PRNs are purchased from accredited re-processors based on recycling activity.
  • A PRN obligation is based on the type and volume of material handled.
  • When fulfilled the NIEA will issue a Certificate of Compliance (CoC).
  • Environmental compliance is a legal obligation of qualifying producers.
  • Failure to comply may attract civil penalties or criminal prosecution.

Nipak Compliance Scheme

  • Registering as a member of a scheme such as Nipak assures compliance.
  • We take on the administrative burdens of registration and data management.
  • We ensure your packaging systems and processes stay relevant and informed.
  • Based on the data you provide we take on your legal responsibility to comply.

If you think that your business might reach or breach the thresholds for the packaging waste obligations in Northern Ireland we can help you make the best decisions for your business. Contact us for advice about how to become compliant and stay within the law.