Help is at hand for the fish processing companies struggling to make sense of the recent amendments to the EU regulations on the handling of waste packaging.

The Technology team of the Sea Fish Industry Authority (Seafish) has recently published a technical information sheet, which aims to guide businesses through the regulations.

The Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations came into force in March 1997 aimed at enabling England, Wales and Scotland (separate regulations apply in Northern Ireland) to meet EU targets for the recovery and recycling of waste materials.

Those targets mean that by the end of 2001 at least 52% of all packaging (by weight) must be recycled, composted or incinerated.

Organisations who are required to comply with the regulations or ‘obligated businesses’ are those who supply packaging or packaged materials to the UK market. That includes those involved in the packaging and retailing of packaged products to the consumer. Businesses must handle over 50 tonnes of packaging per year and have an annual turnover of £2million.

Wesley Denton, Seafish Technology Manager, said: “The regulations raise a number of complicated issues for the fish processing and retailing sectors, including the need to keep detailed records of packaging handled. A major problem is that fish can pass through as many as seven different owners before reaching the consumer and it may not be possible for those in the chain to know the history or future uses of the packaging handled.”

There are two options for those businesses obligated under the regulations; the first is to undertake their own recovery and recycling. This will involve taking full responsibility for locating the appropriate quantities of waste and for the recovery and recycling of that waste. Alternatively, businesses can join one of a number of collection schemes, which will organise collection, sorting and recycling of waste.

The Seafish Technical information sheet provides details of the regulations and what to do if they apply to a company. It also gives a list of useful organisations and their contact details.

For a copy of the Technical Information Sheet 2000//FT contact Deborah Dalton, Librarian, 01482 327837, e-mail: or download it from the internet on

For further information contact:: Cathy Mollon, Public Relations Officer, 0131 558 3331