The National Packaging Waste Database has been developed by the Advisory Committee on Packaging (APC) to handle data on this key waste stream.

It is designed to ease the administration of recycling and recovery of packaging waste and ensure businesses are meeting the requirements to make better use of the packaging they deal with.

As well as making life easier for the regulators the database will also cut red tape for industry, removing the need for companies to submit hardcopy data.

If it proves successful the database could pave the way for electronic Packaging Recovery Notes (PRNs) and Packaging Export Recovery Notes (PERNs).

Ultimately the new database will help industry obtain the latest data in a more timely way, thereby helping the packaging market to operate more effectively.

Although packaging regulations have helped raise recycling rates in the sector from 27% in 1997 to just below 50% by the end of 2004 as the vast majority of scrupulous business comply, there have been numerous high-profile cases of companies trying to beat the system by dodging their obligations or even trading in fraudulent recovery notes.

The database is expected to help combat this problem and help identify so called free-riders – businesses who avoid meeting their obligations under the regulations.

Regulators are expected to benefit from considerable administrative time savings, allowing them to spend more time on enforcing the regulations.

The system will be designed and implemented through a project team reporting to the ACP and on completion will be owned and operated by regulators – the Environment Agency, the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency and the Northern Ireland Environment and Heritage Service.

The system is expected to cost in the region of £350K and has been funded largely by some of the businesses affected by the regulations.

It is expected that the reprocessor module will be in operation this year and that the registration module will be available for the 2007 registration process.

by Sam Bond

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