Essential Requirements

Are you affected?

If you are responsible for filling packaging with products, placing own brand products onto the UK market or importing products in packaging into the UK, you must comply with the Essential Requirements Regulations. Failure to do so could result in a prosecution.


The Packaging (Essential Requirements) Regulations 2015 lay down two key requirements on those that are obligated.

Guidance is here

Essential Requirements

  • Packaging 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
  • Packaging must be manufactured so as to permit reuse or recovery in accordance with specific requirements
  • Noxious or hazardous substances in packaging must be minimised in emissions, ash or leachate from incineration or landfill

Heavy Metal Limits

  • Aggregate heavy metal limits apply to cadmium, mercury, lead and hexavalent chromium in packaging or packaging components subject to some exceptions.
  • The total by weight of such metals should not exceed 100 ppm on or after 30 June 2001

The Regulations are policed by Trading Standards officers who are able to prosecute any company that over packages their goods, taking account of normal storage, handling and selling requirements. This could include security, for instance, where because of theft issues at the retailer, a small but valuable item needs to be in a large package eg software.

The Regulations DO NOT apply to retailers unless that retailer is selling under own brand, has imported the goods in packaging or has packaged the goods themselves.
There have been very few prosecutions under these Regulations although it is understood that many companies have been approached by Trading Standards about over-packaging and have withdrawn the item or repackaged it before action was taken.

An example of a successful prosecution was a video game manufacturer who was prosecuted by Swindon Borough Council in 2009.

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