The main requirement is that no person who is responsible for packing or filling products into packaging or importing packed or filled packaging into the United Kingdom may place that packaging on the market unless that packaging fulfils the Essential Requirements and is within the heavy metal concentration limits.

Essential Requirements

The Essential Requirements are, in summary:

  • 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:

  • 600 ppm on or after 30 June 1998
  • 250 ppm on or after 30 June 1999
  • 100 ppm on or after 30 June 2001


Trading Standards Officers may assess the compliance of any packaging by requesting technical documentation on both the Essential Requirements and the heavy metal concentration limits. This documentation must be produced within 28 days of the request being made.

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