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Extended Producer Responsibility for Packaging Consultation – What you need to know as a packaging producer

9th April 2021

Cherry Whittaker

A message from our Policy Leader Martin Hyde for packaging producers...

Contents of information provided below

  1. Consultation overview
  2. What is Extended producer Responsibility (EPR)?
  3. Key aims and outcomes of the consultation
  4. Key dates and EPR implementation timeline
  5. Responding to the consultation
  6. Consultation response support
  7. Summary of all consultation proposals
  8. Further resources
  9. Support webinars

1. Overview

On 24 March 2021, DEFRA released the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for Packaging consultation, the second one as part of the government’s UK Resources and Waste Strategy and commitment to reform the current packaging waste legislation. This consultation is collective with the England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland governments.

You can view full consultation details and respond to government on the below link:

Extended Producer Responsibility for Packaging Consultation

The consultation will run for a 10-week period, closing on 4 June 2021.

2. 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.

Packaging NOT in scope of EPR:

  • Beverage containers within scope of Deposit Return Schemes (DRS) in the UK (all other packaging associated with drinks is obligated). DEFRA are currently running a separate consultation on DRS which you can read more about HERE
  • Household items (jiffy / sandwich bags / cling film / foil) designed for use by the consumer

3. Key aims and outcomes

The proposals set out in this consultation work together to create a scheme that incentivises packaging producers to design packaging that is easy to recycle and ensure that they pay the full net cost of managing this packaging once it becomes waste (collection, sorting, recycling and disposal). This is in line with the polluter-pays principle. The costs paid will be proportional to the environmental attributes of packaging placed on the market.

The reformed regulations are expected to launch in 2023, meaning 2022 will be the last year of the current Packaging Recovery Note (PRN) system.

In summary, key expected elements of the new legislation include:

  • Producers will be required to pay full net costs of recovery
  • Modulation of fees will apply to compliance costs (Modulated fees will adjust the packaging waste management costs paid by individual producers based on the positive or negative aspects of the packaging they use)
  • Material included in Deposit Return Schemes will not pick up obligations under Extended Producer Responsibility
  • Obligations will change from shared compliance to set points in the supply chain
  • Significantly more detailed data will be required
  • Recyclability labelling requirements may be implemented
  • Specific, hard to recycle material / packaging types will be targeted
  • Scheme administrator to be set up to oversee system

4. Key dates and EPR implementation timeline

24 March 2021 – EPR consultation opens

4 June 2021 – EPR consultation closes (all responses to government must be submitted by this date)

2022 – Packaging EPR Regulations published (estimated)

Q2 2023 – Packaging EPR Regulations come into force (estimated)

Government’s proposed phased introduction of Extended Producer Responsibility - indicative timeline

5. Responding to the consultation

This is likely to be the last opportunity to formally feedback to government on a range of changes that will have significant implications for the future of waste management and recycling in the UK. Packaging producers will be greatly affected by the outcomes of this consultation when the reformed regulations come into place from 2023, so we’d strongly advise that producers submit a response to this consultation directly to government, in order to ensure maximum influence on these upcoming changes.

Why it’s important to respond directly

We welcome packaging producers’ general views on the consultation proposals to submit within our own individual scheme response, however, following the first consultation on reforming the current producer responsibility system (closed in March 2019), government confirmed that each response is considered as a singular view only, regardless of whether it represents the opinions of multiple parties. Therefore, to achieve the most impact, producers need to respond directly to government.

Comply Direct member survey

We are still very keen to gather our members’ views and comments regarding this consultation to incorporate within our own scheme response to government, to ensure we’re representing our members’ best interests effectively and accurately. Please send us your views either by email to consultation@complydirect.com or by completing our short online survey linked below:

Click here to complete our short survey

6. Consultation response support

If you need assistance with compiling and submitting a direct response for your business to this EPR consultation, our in-house policy team can provide dedicated and tailored support for this in line with your specific requirements. We can help you to identify how best to answer the consultation questions for your business and guide you through the full online form to ensure a comprehensive submission, which will effectively represent your organisation’s views and best interests. For more information on how we can help, please email consultation@complydirect.com / call 01756 706 577

We are running a free webinar on 5 May at 10am covering how to respond; focusing upon providing guidance for completing the response form and submitting your views to government - click here to register your free place

We can also help obligated packaging producers prepare on a long-term basis for the upcoming EPR legislation, as well as for plastic tax implications on liable businesses (read more about this HERE). Costs under the new EPR regulations could increase significantly and the modulation of fees will make the environmental performance of packaging impact its compliance cost. Packaging that is not considered 'widely recyclable' is more likely to have increased costs. Comply Direct can help you understand the impact of EPR on your business to ensure you are ready for EPR and modulated fees - please get in touch to find out more.

7. Summary of consultation proposals

We have provided a summary below of all government’s proposals within the consultation, enabling you to quickly grasp the key elements of each section, which you can then choose to read about in more detail by navigating to the relevant element in the full consultation document HERE.

Future packaging recycling targets

  • Minimum recycling targets for 6 materials (paper, glass, aluminium, steel, plastic and wood) with a 73% overall recycling rate for EPR by 2030
  • Specific target for fibre-based composites (food and drink cartons / tetrapak)
  • Review of “closed loop” targets (e.g. recycled plastic packaging used in the manufacture of plastic packaging) for additional materials (similar to current ‘glass remelt’ / ‘glass other’ split). 

Full net cost recovery

  • This covers the collection, sorting, recycling and disposal of packaging waste
  • Estimated to be £2.7 bn per year:
    • packaging waste from households (£1bn)
    • packaging waste from businesses (£1.5bn)
    • packaging waste litter and refuse management costs, including bin and ground litter (£200m)
  • “not a new cost for the economy, but a transfer from one part to another”

Obligated producers

  • Single point of compliance (likely brand owner)
  • Introduction of obligating online marketplaces for imports
  • Lowering de-minimis (thresholds which obligates businesses under the legislation)

Disposable cups

  • Mandatory cup takeback and recycling requirement should be placed on businesses selling filled disposable paper cups
  • Takeback via instore / front of shop collection points (must accept all paper cups)

Modulated fees

  • Administered by scheme administrator (to be instated and will be a non-profit organisation acting as the overseeing body for EPR regulations)
  • Will apply to compliance costs
  • Lower fee rates for packaging with positive contribution to scheme outcomes / targets
  • Higher fee rates for packaging that does not contribute positively
  • Incentivise producers to make changes such as:
  • Use different packaging formats
  • Make improvements to packaging used
  • Fund improvements to the management of their packaging

Labelling

  • Mandatory labelling to introduced by 2026/2027
  • Clarity on what can / cannot be recycled
  • Requirement to use government approved label

Plastic film and flexibles

  • Government believes separate collection of all films and flexibles by 2026/2027 (financial year) is possible (household and commercial waste)
  • Producers pay cost of collecting
  • Includes laminated / metalized packaging formats
  • Material collected / recycled through voluntary initiatives may be eligible for offsetting against EPR obligations
  • Should be implemented as soon as possible and government are seeking views through consultation

Biodegradable, biobased and compostable packaging

  • Modulation and labelling are complex when considering the role of biodegradable and compostable packaging
  • By default, these materials would not be eligible for a recyclable label and would likely be classed as “do not recycle”
  • Treated as higher fee modulation products until research and evidence can be provided around waste management

Financing packaging waste from households

  • Producers are expected to bear the cost of multiple areas for packaging waste management
  • Based on tonnage and quality collected
  • Household and business packaging waste management payments will likely be based on the previous year’s data (similar to current system)
  • Managed by scheme administrator

Financing packaging waste from businesses

  • All commercial and industrial packaging will be in scope of producer payment requirements alongside household-like packaging
  • Three different approaches suggested for payment methods with the aim of minimising costs to businesses of packaging waste collection; two competitive and one managed by scheme administrator

Financing packaging disposed of in the litter stream

  • Littered packaging is estimated at £384m cost per year, of which £212m is EPR packaging.
  • Government aims to use EPR to:
  • Reduce the amount of packaging littered
  • Increase “on the go” packaging reuse / recycling
  • Ensure producers cover costs associated with littered packaging
  • Two options proposed for approaching producer payment coverage for litter where it occurs in publicly accessible land:
  • Option 1 – Producer payments cover full cost of litter management on land owned by charities or not for profits that is accessible to the public for free
  • Option 2 – Producer payments contribute to costs incurred by charities, not for profits and representative bodies for prevention and educational activities, litter picks and “binfrastructure” on land that is accessible to public for free
  • Scheme administrator to bring in monitoring arrangements to link litter payments to performance / outcomes

Scheme administration and governance

  • Central to the management of EPR will be the addition of a scheme administrator.
  • The role of the scheme administrator varies depending on each of the two governance options proposed:
  • Option 1 – Single management organisation / scheme administrator
  • Option 2 – Scheme administrator with multiple compliance schemes (LA payments undertaken by scheme administrator)
  • The primary appointment is expected to last 8-10 years.

Reprocessors and exporters

  • Once EPR is fully operational, PRNs and PERNs will no longer be viable.
  • Restrictions on exports; government will consult separately on a regulatory framework for waste exports, likely in 2022, for 2023/24 introduction
  • Commitment to ban export of plastic waste to non-OECD countries

Monitoring and enforcement

  • Regulator charges should better reflect the costs incurred for compliance / monitoring
  • Regulators in each nation should be primary regulators

Digital design

  • Split responsibilities between government and scheme administrator
  • Government is aiming to utilise digital design to link EPR with reprocessor, local authority and producer obligations to make the system as traceable as possible
  • Government will likely launch, own and operate its own digital data collection system
  • This system will likely be required to collect cost and performance data for local authority and business payment frameworks to ensure they are a success

8. Further resources

Summary videos of key proposals

Five minute support videos for packaging producers summarising each key section of the EPR consultation are available on request; please email consultation@complydirect.com to request access to these. 

Watch this space! We will imminently be sharing further reference documents to enhance your understanding. 

9. Upcoming webinars

The future of packaging waste in the UK - Joining the legislative dots

Tuesday 13 April at 10am

The next set of packaging consultations as part of the government's UK Resources and Waste Strategy have been released, covering Extended Producer Responsibility Packaging Reform and Deposit Return Schemes, with the third related consultation for Waste Collections Consistency expected imminently. During this webinar, we will be providing a summary of the latest consultations' aims and content, the outcomes of the previous consultations on these three areas, and importantly, explain how all three are connected.

Click here to register your free place

Extended Producer Responsibility for Packaging Consultation - How to Respond

Wednesday 5 May at 10am

During this webinar, we will detail a brief overview of the consultation content, with a focus upon providing guidance for completing the response form and submitting your views to government.

Click here to register your free place

If you have any queries regarding this EPR consultation, would like to share your views with us for our scheme response and/or want more details about how we can support you with submitting your own response to government, please contact our policy team – consultation@complydirect.com / 01756 706 577