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Government confirms delay to EPR scheme roll out

Government has confirmed that it intends to delay the roll out of the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) scheme from 2023 to 2024 and will focus initially on payments for household packaging waste and packaging in street bins.

What is Extended Producer Responsibility?

Extended Producer Responsibility requires producers to be responsible for the packaging they place on the UK market at the end of its life. Under EPR proposals, packaging producers will be made responsible for the full net cost of managing the packaging they place on the market.

Government first announced its intention to introduce EPR for packaging in the Resources and Waste Strategy published in 2018 and has since published several consultations. The new EPR system will eventually replace the current Packaging Waste Regulations with a phased implementation from 2024. The reforms implemented by EPR for packaging will focus on producer payments for managing household packaging waste and packaging in street bins managed by local authorities and will appoint a scheme administrator to oversee the system. The Packaging Waste Recycling Note System will continue in parallel, to demonstrate recycling obligations have been met.

Who will be caught by EPR?

If you are a producer first placing packaging on the UK market, whether UK sourced or imported, it is likely you will be affected by EPR. Proposals state a move from the current shared responsibility approach to a ‘single point of compliance’ whereby just one business in the packaging chain is responsible for all costs. In addition, businesses selling goods in the UK will be required to report separately the volumes and material types of packaging they place on the market.

Under the current Packaging Waste Regulations a producer must meet the combined threshold of a turnover over £2 million and over 50 tonnes of packaging handled and this will remain the threshold under EPR. There will also be a new threshold introduced of £1m turnover and 25 tonnes of packaging handled which will oblige smaller producers to report packaging data.

WM Comment

The food and drink industry is expected to bear a significant amount of additional costs under the EPR scheme. However the scheme has been broadly welcomed by the Food and Drink Federation citing a commitment to move towards a circular economy. Businesses should review their supply chain documents in light of these changes.