EPR FAQs

Answers from our policy team to frequently asked EPR questions

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is expected to commence post-2023 for packaging waste and affects current packaging producers, as well as other businesses handling packaging who are not obligated under the existing legislation. Below are the answers to common questions we get asked in relation to EPR, which are designed to address who will be obligated by EPR requirements, as well as how to ensure compliance.

What is Extended Producer Responsibility?

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is a system whereby the full costs associated with the environmental disposal of a product (or packaging) are met by the business placing that product (or packaging) on the market.

For packaging, this means a change from the current system of partial participation, to one of full net cost recovery.

What is defined as 'packaging' under EPR?

All products made of any materials of any nature to be used for the containment, protection, handling, delivery and presentation of goods, from raw materials to processed goods, from the producer to the user or the consumer. Non-returnable items used for the same purposes shall also be considered to constitute packaging.

What types of packaging are NOT in scope of EPR?

  • Beverage containers within scope of Deposit Return Schemes in the UK (all other packaging associated with drinks is obligated)
  • Household items (jiffy / sandwich bags / cling film / foil) designed for use by the consumer

Will EPR obligate more companies than the current system?

Yes - currently de-minimis is set at 50T handled and £2m turnover. However, under EPR, Government is keen to reduce de-minimis and has suggested three options:

1) Reduce thresholds to £1m turnover and 25T packaging handled

2) Distributors pick up obligations for unfilled packaging sold to businesses below threshold

3) Manufacturers and importers pick up obligations for unfilled packaging sold to businesses below threshold

What are the different types of obligated producer under EPR?

There are 6 types of producer under the proposed regulations; producers may fall under multiple types:

  • Brand owners – place / have placed goods into packaging and placed on UK market under own brand name
  • Importers – import filled packaging into the UK for sale
  • Distributors – businesses selling unfilled packaging to those below the de minimis
  • Online marketplaces – UK businesses operating websites where filled packaging is sold online
  • Sellers – Businesses who sell filled packaging to end users
  • Service providers – Businesses who supply reusable packaging to a user of that packaging by hiring out or leasing / lending

What are the obligations under EPR?

Obligation types are split into 2:

1) Waste management costs obligation

  • Report on obligated packaging placed on market
  • Pay full net cost recovery fees
  • Pay fee modulation costs

2) Nation specific reporting obligations

  • Submit data on packaging placed on the market in NI, England, Wales and Scotland separately

What will obligated producers under EPR have to do?

Waste management costs obligation

  • Report on obligated packaging placed on market
  • Pay full net cost recovery fees
  • Pay fee modulation costs

This obligation would apply to:

  • Brand owners – for packaging filled in the UK
  • Importers – for imported filled packaging
  • Distributors – for unfilled packaging sold to businesses under the threshold
  • Online marketplaces – For filled packaging sold via online retail
  • Service providers – for leased packaging on its first journey in the UK

Nation specific reporting obligations

  • Submit data on packaging placed on the market in NI, England, Wales and Scotland separately

This obligation would apply to:

  • Sellers – For filled packaging sold to the end consumer
  • Importers – for packaging their customer discards and that which they discard from imports
  • Distributors – for unfilled packaging sold to producers below the threshold
  • Service providers – for hired out reusable packaging
  • Online marketplaces – for filled packaging sold to the end consumer (including mailing packaging)

What will data reporting under EPR involve?

Producers will be required to gather extended data from January – December 2022; there are two proposed options for data gathering in 2022:

Option 1 – Household centric – Only applies up to 2024

  • Obligated producers report on packaging likely to end up in the household waste stream
  • This is considered to be primary and shipment packaging only

Option 2 – All packaging – Will apply from 2024 onwards

  • Obligated producers report all packaging handled
  • Producers would also report “self handled” packaging which could be netted from their obligation

Who will have to report under the new data obligations?

These data obligations will apply to all producers whom have an obligation to pay packaging waste management costs:

  • Brand owners – Place / have placed goods into packaging
  • Importers – Import filled packaging into the UK for sale
  • Distributors – Businesses selling unfilled packaging to those below the de-minimis
  • Online marketplaces – UK businesses operating websites where filled packaging is sold online
  • Service providers – Businesses who supply reusable packaging to a user of that packaging by hiring out or leasing / lending

What are modulated fees?

The introduction of modulated fees aims to adjust the price of compliance, based on the specific environmental performance of packaging.

Low fee rates will apply to packaging with a positive contribution to scheme outcomes / targets, whilst higher fees will apply to packaging that does not positively contribute.

This suggests that certain packaging materials will pay significantly higher costs than what we have seen in the previous system, as more detail on packaging type, format and material usage will be required.

What is the Scheme Administrator?

The Scheme Administrator will be a non-profit organisation acting as the overseeing body for EPR regulations, undertaking the following tasks:

1. Strategic and operational planning

2. Achieve producer statutory recycling targets

3. Producer registration, data management and provision of digital infrastructure

4. Determine packaging waste management costs to be paid by producers

5. Set packaging modulated fees

6. Raise packaging fees from producers and make payments to local authorities and other service providers

7. Strategic oversight and allocation of funding for communication campaigns

8. Report performance

9. Liaise with other packaging producer schemes (such as DRS)

What will happen to the current PRN / PERN system?

Once EPR is fully operational, PRNs and PERNs will no longer be viable.

Government will consult separately on a regulatory framework for waste exports, likely in 2022, for post-2023 introduction. This will include:

  • Potential requirement to submit information on waste exported in advance of shipment (including annex VII forms for green list exports)
  • Requirement to pay a fee to regulators to meet the cost of compliance / monitoring for non-hazardous waste shipments
  • Requirement to have financial resources available to meet waste shipment repatriation costs
  • Requirement to provide appropriate evidence of environmentally sound management at overseas sites

What is the enforcement system under EPR?

Currently, civil sanctions are used in the first instance, however, these are not available in Northern Ireland.

Additional enforcement options to be used for EPR include:

  • Advice and guidance – bringing into compliance
  • Warnings
  • Notices, powers and orders
  • Civil sanctions (fixed or variable monetary penalties or enforcement undertakings)
  • Formal caution
  • Prosecution under criminal law