EPR Consultation Government Response
The long awaited Government response to the Extended Producer Responsibility for Packaging (EPR) has landed.
By way of reminder, EPR will move the full cost of dealing with packaging waste from households away from local taxpayers and councils to the packaging producers (‘polluterpays), giving producers responsibility for the costs of their packaging throughout its life cycle.
This will encourage producers to:
- reduce their use of packaging; and
- use packaging which is easier to recycle.
Producers will pay more for less sustainable packaging, incentivising packaging that uses less material and is easier to recycle.
Producers will also be expected to:
- meet ambitious new recycling targets and
- use clear unambiguous labelling of recyclability to make it easy for consumers to do the right thing.
The Government states that as its “final policy proposals and detailed legislative requirements take shape over the coming months, they will lay the firm foundation for business and local authority led investment in the sector to optimise packaging choices, invest in improved collection and sorting systems, and grow domestic reprocessing capacity.”
EPR will build on the UK Plastic Packaging Tax to be introduced from 1 April 2022.
- 28% from local government;
- 24% from packaging designers/manufacturers/converters and distributors; and
- 24% from product manufacturers/brands and retailers.
Key changes following the consultation
- EPR to be introduced in a phased manner from 2024, rather than 2023,
- First focus will be on payments for
- household packaging waste and
- packaging in street bins managed by local authorities,
with such payments being determined from 1 April 2024.
- All households will be able to recycle the same packaging materials from home.
- Government to introduce modulated fees based on recyclability from 2025, rather than 2024.
- Packaging waste that is littered:
- England and Northern Ireland: no payments;
- Scotland and Wales – considering steps to oblige producers for these costs and will come forward with their proposals in due course.
- Continuation of the current arrangements (‘Packaging Waste Recycling Note (PRN) system’) to demonstrate recycling obligations have been met. The Government expects that a small number of minor improvements to the PRN system may be necessary and the Government has published a consultation on these reforms alongside this response.
- Government will continue to explore payments for commercially collected packaging waste (from businesses and other organisations that pay for the collection of their waste), establishing a task force, with cross-sector representation, to develop the evidence, undertake analysis and identify options.
- Threshold for producer recycling obligations and disposal cost payments at £2m turnover and 50 tonnes of packaging handled p.a.
- A lower threshold of £1m turnover and 25 tonnes of packaging handled p.a. will be introduced for producers to report packaging placed on the market only.
- All compostable and biodegradable packaging will be required to be given the ‘do not recycle’ label, allowing time to build the evidence that it can be safely collected and composted separately.
- A Scheme Administrator (SA) will be appointed – mobilisation in 2023 and fully operational in 2024.
- An indicative view from HM Treasury is that the SA is likely to be classified as being within the public sector. In light of this advice Government is considering options to establish the SA within the public sector, but still maintain significant industry involvement in the delivery of its functions.
- The final decision on the SA will be made by the four governments.
- The EPR scheme will be reviewed after two years of its operation; this review will consider the proposals of the task force, as well as progress in reducing the volumes of packaging in street bins and littered on the ground.
Regulations to be introduced for:
- Producers to pay the costs of managing household packaging waste.
- Payments to local authorities and councils (local councils in Northern Ireland) for collection of household packaging waste, and on the go packaging disposed of in street bins.
- Modulated fees to incentivise the use of recyclable packaging.
- Mandatory labelling of packaging for recyclability with a single labelling format.
- Annual packaging waste recycling targets to 2030.
- Strengthened requirements on reprocessors and exporters.
- Appointment of a Scheme Administrator.
Deposit Return Scheme (DRS)
- Regulations are also to be introduced for a mandatory takeback scheme for the collection and recycling of fibre-based composite cups (disposable coffee cups).
- The Government states that it is analysing the consultation responses on DRS and that it will clarify the materials in scope for DRS (and hence not for EPR).
- Single-use drinks containers containing between 50ml and 3ltr of liquid will be in-scope of the DRS.
- England and Northern Ireland will not include glass in their DRS. Glass drinks bottles will be in scope of EPR, which will place targets on producers in relation to glass recycling and require them to pay for the cost of managing glass packaging generated by households.
- By way of contrast, the Welsh Government will introduce an all-in DRS in Wales which includes PET plastic, steel and aluminium cans, and glass bottles.
- Response to DRS Consultation (England, Wales and Northern Ireland).
- Response to the Consistent Recycling Collections Consultation (England).
- Development of the EPR Statutory Instrument (SI) in 2022, with a view to laying it in Parliament in Spring 2023. The Government expects the regulations to come into force in Summer 2023.
- To ensure EPR can be implemented from 2024, the Government will also be developing a separate Data Reporting SI, which will come into force on 1 January 2023. These regulations will be in force for one year. They will cover data collection and reporting obligations for producers for 2023 only. They will be repealed by the EPR SI which will contain identical provisions that will apply to data reporting from 2024.
- As stated above, a small number of minor improvements to the PRN system may be necessary and the Government has published a consultation on these reforms alongside this response.
Please find the EPR Consultation Government response template here.
If you require further assistance on this, please contact Kirstin Roberts MCIWM, Director of Waste and Renewables.
The content of this page is a summary of the law in force at the date of publication and is not exhaustive, nor does it contain definitive advice. Specialist legal advice should be sought in relation to any queries that may arise.
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