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.”