British businesses urged to prepare for packaging waste reforms
The Government has brought reporting requirements for Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) into force, making it easier for consumers to recycle packaging waste.
Extended Producer Responsibility for Packaging (pEPR) will make firms that supply household packaging responsible for the costs of dealing with packaging waste, moving costs away from councils and council taxpayers.
Producers will be required to pay an EPR fee towards the costs of collecting and managing household packaging waste, currently borne by local authorities.
This shift of cost is estimated to be around £1.2bn per year across all local authorities, once EPR is fully operational.
This will encourage producers to reduce the amount of packaging they place on the market, and to improve the recyclability of their packaging – in turn ensuring less waste ends up in the natural environment.
All obligated packaging producers in England, Northern Ireland and Scotland must now collect information on the amount and type of packaging they have supplied during 2023. Wales will follow shortly.
Producers with a turnover of greater than £2m and who handle more than 50 tonnes of packaging each year must also report this information to the Environment Agency twice a year.
The first reports must be submitted from 1 October 2023.
Environment minister Rebecca Pow said: “We need to stem the flow of packaging which goes unrecycled and instead is lost forever to landfill and incineration.
“As set out in our Environmental Improvement Plan, these reforms will encourage businesses to increase their use of recyclable materials, shifting costs away from the taxpayer and supporting our work to protect the environment from the scourge of waste.”
Deep Sagar, chair of the Advisory Committee on Packaging, said: “Packaging materials that are not recycled back into new packaging harm our natural environment. Councils have to spend more managing that waste and the public cannot enjoy spaces such as parks and high streets as they should.
“Extended Producer Responsibility will reduce that waste. It will make goods producers pay for collection of all packaging waste encouraging them to reduce or recycle more packaging. I look forward to supporting government and industry in making this smart policy work for the public and improving the environment.”
WRAP’s director of insights and innovation, Claire Shrewsbury, added: “The introduction of an EPR for packaging could be a game-changer. If done effectively, it could reduce the impact packaging has on the environment by regulating material use and increasing recycling.
“For EPR to work it must serve all – producers, local and central government, recyclers, and the public. We’ve been working with these key groups since 2018 to help collaboration on pEPR.”
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30 years after Germany introduced their elegant system which was no secret and any government/civil service should actually be keeping tabs on what was going on elsewhere, what was successful what could be copied.
30 years on the UK accepts the first step is to get packaging producers to pay TOWARDS the cost, not PAY these costs and since the UK struggles to solve problems this is only for large companies so a bit of an improvement but not a water tight solution.
To recap the German system.
A single company Duales System Deutschland (DSD) was set up to handle all packaging collection and recycling for the whole country (now several companies fulfill this function), but crucially local authorities removed from responsibilty and costs. From the largest city to the smallest hamlet every household gets a yellow bin or sack. They also get recycling bins in public places.
The DSD sets up a network of sub contractors (includes local authorities who still have to deal with normal waste so have the staff and trucks). They also set up a network of recycling facilities appropriate to population density not local authority boundaries.
DSD collects the fees from manufacturers to pay for the whole thing. Large companies only need a bit of extra software to calculate the fees, monthly when I worked in one. Smaller companies could buy in their packaging with the fees prepaid but there are no exceptions.
Theoretically there is a path for every toffee paper in the country to be recycled and so the recycling rate could be 100% if everybody disposed of packaging using the system.
Since the packaging recycling costs have already been paid by the manufacturer, small businesses like restaurants put their packaging waste in with the domestic collection. No need for “commercial” waste charges.
Any country could be doing the same