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FAQs - Packaging and Packaging Waste

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

These frequently asked questions are not legally binding and may be updated from time to time. Only the Courts of Malta can give a binding interpretation of Maltese Legislation.

 

What is packaging?

Packaging is defined as any product made of any materials of any nature to be used for the containment, protection, handling, delivery and presentation of goods, from raw materials to processed goods, from the producer to the user or the consumer. ‘Non-returnable’ items used for the same purposes shall also be considered to constitute packaging.

 

Which packaging is covered by L.N. 277 of 2006?

Packaging covered under this legal notice refers to sales packaging, grouped packaging, and transport or tertiary packaging. 

Sales packaging or primary packaging, is packaging conceived so as to constitute a sales unit to the final user or consumer at the point of purchase.

Grouped packaging or secondary packaging, is packaging conceived so as to constitute at the point of purchase a grouping of a certain number of sales units whether the latter is sold as such to the final user or consumer or whether it serves only as a means to replenish the shelves at the point of sale, and can be removed from the product without affecting its characteristics.

Transport packaging or tertiary packaging, is packaging conceived so as to facilitate handling and transport of a number of sales units or grouped packaging in order to prevent physical handling and transport damage. This is usually packaging that is left at the producer's warehouse such as boxes, shrink wrap, pallets, etc. 

 

Are there any criteria that can be applied to determine whether an item is packaging or not?

Items shall be considered to be packaging:

  • if they fulfil the definition in Question 1. without prejudice to other functions which the packaging might also perform, unless the item is an integral part of a product and it is necessary to contain, support or preserve that product throughout its lifetime and all elements are intended to be used, consumed or disposed of together, e.g. sweet boxes and film overwrap around a CD case; or
  • if they are designed and intended to be filled at the point of sale, and 'disposable' items sold, filled or designed and intended to be filled at the point of sale, e.g. paper or plastic carrier bags, and disposable plates and cups; or
  • if they are packaging components and ancillary elements integrated into the packaging. Ancillary elements hung directly on, or attached to, a product and which perform a packaging function shall be considered to be packaging unless they are an integral part of this product and all elements are intended to be consumed or disposed of together, e.g. labels hung directly on or attached to a product.

 

What are the categories of packaging?

"Categories of packaging" means glass, plastic, paper and board, aluminium, steel, wood and others as may be from time to time specified by the Competent Authority. An item of packaging waste shall be deemed to be comprised of the constituent material which is proportionally largest by weight. 

 

What are the main obligations under L.N. 277/06?

Producers of packaging who put the packaging material on the market are to:

  • register as packaging producers with MEPA each year, and declare the amount of packaging that has been put on the market during the previous year;
  • set up their own system to collect and recycle the packaging waste that they generate, or join an authorised recovery scheme that would collect and recycle their packaging material. For example, a company that imports food products must collect and recycle the packaging that ends up at the consumer, together with the packaging that is left at the retailer, and the packaging that is generated through the transportation of the products;
  • keep records of packaging material "put on the market" for 3 years.

 

What are the obligations of a self-compliant producer?

Registering with MEPA on a yearly basis either on-line (accessing www.mepa.gov.mt) for a fee of 10 Euro, or by submitting the registration manually for a fee of 35 Euro provided that such registration is done within the required timeframes.

Ensure that the required percentage indicated in Schedule 3 of L.N. 277 of 2006 for each particular waste stream per year is recycled/recovered in an authorised facility both locally (if available) or abroad. The latter process could either be carried out by the same producer or by one of the authorised waste brokers indicated on the MEPA website.

In the case where the producer will be sending his packaging waste himself to an authorised facility, the producer should ensure that the receiving facility issues a certificate of recovery/recycling so that this could be submitted to MEPA together with the registration as a proof that the waste was treated in an environmentally sound manner.

In the case where the producer will be using one of the authorised waste brokers to deliver the waste to an authorised facility, the waste broker should ensure that waste handed over, would only be the waste generated by the same producer. Once the waste is delivered and treated by the facility, the waste broker should issue a certificate that the waste was delivered and treated in environmentally sound manner.

In the case where producers are unable to achieve their targets by collecting the packaging waste generated by their own packaging material producers may have no option but to join a collective compliance scheme. Producers, whose products are sold directly to consumers, will be considered as ineligible to register as self-compliant unless they can prove to MEPA that they are recovering their packaging waste directly from the consumers.

The certificate issued by the waste broker should include the following information:

  • Details of the waste generator
  • The WMP number (MEPA Registration Number) of the waste producer
  • The weight exported for recycling/recovery (categorised by waste streams) for the whole year Eg: 2 tonnes of plastic for 2010.
  • The location from where the waste was collected.
  • Information about packaging waste considered as hazardous due to contamination by product contents.
  • Declaration by the waste broker that the waste was collected from the waste generator indicated in the certificate and that the waste was treated in an authorised recovery/recycling facility both locally (if available) or abroad.
  • The certificate issued by the waste broker with the above details should be submitted to MEPA together with the yearly Registration.

 

 

Do Member States have any obligations on targets for the recycling/recovering of packaging waste?

Member States are obliged to recycle/recover packaging as stipulated in the Legal Notice. It is envisaged that this responsibility would be passed on to the producers. A producer can either fulfil these obligations alone, or can opt to join an authorised recovery scheme. In that case the producer would transfer his/her obligations to the authorised scheme.

 

What evidence is needed that packaging waste has been recycled/recovered?

Producers need to provide MEPA with a certificate from an authorised waste management facility to prove that the packaging waste generated from the product they put on the market has been recovered and recycled. Producers need to report such activity to MEPA on a quarterly basis.

MEPA may also audit the procedures adopted by the producers to ensure accuracy and validity. If producers join an authorised recovery scheme, then the obligations for declaring the amount of packaging waste that is put on the market together with providing evidence that the packaging waste has been recovered and recycled is transferred on the authorised compliance scheme.

Who is an economic operator?

An "economic operator" means a person who for the purpose of trade or otherwise in the course of business, imports, manufactures, converts, distributes, fills, packs, sells or otherwise supplies to other persons or otherwise puts packaging material or packaging, or packaged products, on the market and "produce" shall be construed accordingly.

 Who is a producer?

A "producer" means any person in Malta who puts packaging or packaging material on the local market for the first time within the territory of Malta on a professional basis.

 

What is meant by 'put on the market'?

To 'put on the market' means when a packaging or packaging material is supplied or made available, whether in return for payment or free of charge, to a third party in Malta and includes import into the customs territory of Malta.

 

At which point is it considered that a packaging material has been placed on the market?

In the case of packaging or packaged products that are put on the market with the intention of redistribution to third parties, the point at which the producer is obliged to record the materials as having been placed on the market is the point when the first VAT receipt has been raised locally. In the case where the producer is putting on the market packaging or packed materials for his/her own consumption/use (e.g. in the case of manufacturing companies that import packaged raw materials), the point where the packaging is to be recorded as having been placed on the market is the point of entry of the packaging or packaged good into the customs territory of Malta and in the case of locally manufactured products, the point when the packaging or packaged good is manufactured. 

 

Do we need to distinguish between goods originating from Malta or from overseas?

No, there is no distinction between goods originating from Malta or imported into the Maltese territory. Any producer that places packaging on the market, whether the goods are manufactured in Malta or whether the goods are imported, needs to collect and recycle the packaging generated from the products they put on the market in accordance with the targets set by the regulations.

 

What should I do to register as a packaging producer?

To register as a packaging producer the relevant form must be completed and returned to MEPA. If the producer is a member of an authorised recovery scheme, s/he would still need to register as such, but are not required to declare the amount of packaging waste that has been put on the market during the previous year (provided that during that year they were a member of the scheme), since this would be done by the scheme. Evidence of membership to an authorised recovery scheme is also required. 

 

From where could I obtain the form?

The form could be either obtained from the MEPA or may be downloaded online from this website.

 

What should I do if am registered as a producer of packaging with a waste recovery scheme?

If a producer chooses to make use of an existing authorised packaging waste recovery scheme, s/he shall still be required to fill in the registration form as a packaging producer and would be required to submit to the Competent Authority proof of her/his membership in the approved compliance scheme.  

 

What are authorized packaging waste recovery schemes?

An "authorised packaging waste recovery scheme" is a recovery scheme for packaging waste that is operated by a person that has a valid waste management permit under the Waste Management (Permit and Control) Regulations, 2001, by the Malta Environment and Planning Authority.

 

What if I cease to put packaging and packaging material on the market?

When a producer ceases to put packaging and packaging material on the market s/he shall inform the Competent Authority within 20 working days of his ceasing to do so.

 

What if the business is transferred in whole or in part to another person?

Where the business of a producer is transferred in whole or in part to another person, the producer shall be treated as remaining responsible for packaging and packaging material in respect of which s/he has made an application unless s/he is able to demonstrate that the person to whom the transfer has been made has agreed to meet the producer's obligations of any packaging and packaging material under these obligations. 

 

What if I do not register by the due date?

If companies fail to register with MEPA enforcement action and prosecution may be taken against them.

 

What are NACE codes?

NACE codes represent the statistical classification of economic activities within the European Union which serves as a basis for compiling statistics on the production, factors of production (labour, raw materials, energy, etc.), fixed capital formation operations and financial operations of firms and other entities. The NACE code assigns a unique 5 or 6 digit code to each industry sector, for example, DA.15.83 - Manufacture of Sugar. Your NACE category may be determined from the different categories. A list of NACE codes may be obtained from HERE.

 

Does reusing my packaging material exempt me from any obligations under L.N. 277 of 2006?

No, reusing the packaging material does not exempt the company from the obligations put on packaging producers, and would still need to be declared in the amount of packaging material put on the market. However, in the case of any recovery/recycling targets that may be imposed on producers, the amounts of packaging waste reused could be deducted from the total figure of packaging placed on the market. 

 

If I import products e.g. falling under the WEEE directive, is abiding solely to this directive sufficient or not?

No, the two different directives have separate obligations which need to be abided to separately.

 

Are there any fines if the Competent Authority finds me in breach of these regulations?

Any person who commits an offence against these regulations shall, on conviction, be liable:

(a) on a first conviction, to a fine (multa) of not less than five hundred Maltese liri (Lm500), but not exceeding one thousand Maltese liri (Lm1,000);
(b) on a second conviction or subsequent convictions, to a fine (multa) of not less than one thousand Maltese liri (Lm1,000), but not exceeding two thousand Maltese liri (Lm2,000), or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, or to both such fine and imprisonment:

Provided that whenever any person is found guilty of committing an offence under these regulations by means of a vehicle, the owner of the said vehicle, where applicable, is held liable in the same manner and degree.

Provided further that the court may order any person who has been found guilty of committing an offence against these regulations to pay for the expenses incurred by the Competent Authority mentioned in these regulations as a result of the said offence, the revocation of the permit issued by the Competent Authority and the confiscation of the corpus delicti, including the vehicle, if applicable.

 

How can I register?

You can either register on-line by accessing www.mepa.gov.mt or else you can register manually by submitting the application at MEPA. In order to be able to register on-line, you need to have an electronic ID (e-ID). To register for an e-ID you are kindly requested to seek further information available on the official Malta Government website at www.mygov.mt/portal . On-line registration is subject to a 10 Euro registration fee while manual registrations are subject to a 35 Euro fee.

Producers will also be allowed to delegate this registration process to authorised Collective Compliance Schemes if they are members of such schemes.

 

Who can register on-line?

On-line registration can be carried out by anyone in possession of a valid e-ID. In case where foreign companies would need to register, they would need to nominate a representative (who has a valid e-ID) to do the registration on their behalf. Such representative could also be an authorised Collective Compliance Scheme who would also be able to register on their behalf.

 

Who can I call if I need further advice?

In case of further advice you are kindly requested to contact MEPA on http://mepacms.mepa.org.mt/contactusform?id=61 or on telephone no. 2290 3100.