DEFRA publish long awaited EPR for packaging consultation response
On 26 March 2022, The Department for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) published their response to the second consultation on EPR for packaging which closed on 4 June 2021. You can read about what the consultation proposals encompassed in our summary for packaging producers here
The key elements included in the proposed reform of the current packaging waste regulations (established in 1997) were to make producers responsible for the full net cost of managing packaging once it becomes waste, as well as setting more ambitious packaging waste recycling targets for producers and introducing clear and consistent labelling on packaging for recyclability.
The most recent consultation focused on government’s proposals for introduction of EPR (extended producer responsibility) and received a total of 1,241 responses across all relevant stakeholder groups; 28% of responses came from local government, 24% from packaging designers/manufacturers/converters and distributors, and 24% from product manufacturers/brands and retailers. You can access the full response analysis here
The full consultation response from DEFRA can be accessed here and we have provided a summary below of the salient decisions for packaging producers and our supplier network to be aware of.
Following the EPR delay announcement in early March, DEFRA has confirmed that EPR will now be implemented in a “phased manner” from 2024, instead of 2023. Specifically, this will incorporate partial EPR implementation from April 2024 relating to packaging waste managed by local authorities, and regulations will be introduced for producers to pay the costs of managing household packaging waste. Full implementation of EPR will happen in 2025 with the introduction of modulated fees based on packaging recyclability. DEFRA state in their response that this approach will “simplify and de-risk delivery”.
In relation to packaging waste collected from businesses and organisations paying for collection of waste, government have promised to continue exploring payment methods for this, with a plan to establish a task force, including cross-sector representation, to develop the evidence, undertake analysis and identify options.
Furthermore, In England and Northern Ireland, payments for packaging waste that is littered will not be introduced, however, Scotland and Wales are planning to obligate producers for these costs and will set their own proposals in a timely manner.
Following financial analysis, DEFRA has confirmed a change to the annual overall obligated producer cost under EPR, which is now expected to reduce by £1billion, from £2.7billion estimated in the previous consultations, to £1.7billion as of the response publication on 26 March 2022.
Government believes this will drive a significant incentive for producers to reduce packaging and increase its recyclability, therefore, reducing the costs they incur under EPR.
EPR Scheme Administrator
A Scheme Administrator (SA) is expected to be appointed in 2023 and be fully operational from 2024. The Scheme Administrator is set to be classified within the public sector; however, government will ensure considerable involvement from industry as they recognise this is crucial for the body to operate successfully.
The current de-minimis for producer recycling obligations and disposal cost payments will be retained at £2m turnover and 50 tonnes of packaging handled each year. However, a lower threshold of £1m turnover and 25 tonnes of packaging handled each year will be put in force and producers meeting those thresholds will be required to report packaging placed on the market under EPR.
Until the UK has infrastructure and evidence that compostable and biodegradable packaging can be collected and composted independently, all packaging of this composition will be required to display a label stating, ‘Do not recycle’.
The PRN system is set to continue as it operates currently relating to all packaging until at least 2026. This has been decided to ensure there is a robust system to demonstrate recycling obligations have been met as the UK phases to full EPR. Household packaging will incur an additional disposal fee payable to local authorities, the cost of which will be set by the new scheme administrator.
As a result of retaining the current system, government has released a consultation on reforms to this for system improvement. The consultation seeks views on proposals to address the identified issues and improve overall effectiveness, including suggestions from the Advisory Committee on Packaging (ACP) and other industry bodies. The consultation closes on 21 May and full details can be viewed on the government website here. We will be communicating with our packaging members and suppliers in due course to detail more information about this, including how to share views.
EPR recycling targets
Government has increased the recycling targets for several materials from those initially proposed at consultation stage. Please see table 1 below for confirmation and comparison.
Government has justified that their decision to amend the targets is taking account of “final policy decisions on the scope of DRS in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and decisions on other policies that will impact packaging recycling rates such as the recycling consistency measures in England”.
Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) update
In addition, the consultation response document confirmed some DRS decisions. Read about what a DRS is and the previous consultations here. Firstly, England and Northern Ireland will be omitting glass from their systems, but Wales will continue with an all-in DRS which includes glass. This was considered when government set the recycling targets for packaging in scope of EPR Regulations (see table 1 above).
Furthermore, all single-use beverage containers from 50ml to 3litres in size will be in-scope of DRS in England, Northern Ireland and Wales.
We expect government to publish a full response to the 2021 DRS consultation imminently, and will share a summary of this once available.
As previously communicated, it should be noted that materials in scope of DRS will not be obligated under EPR.
Further information and PRN/PERN consultation
We are reviewing the EPR consultation response in further depth and will communicate a detailed summary of the full response to our packaging members and suppliers in due course. This will enable clear understanding of all areas set to affect producers and the re-processing sector, as well as clarity on next steps to prepare and ensure readiness for EPR implementation.
Additionally, we will summarise the PRN/PERN consultation, providing all key information for our members and supplier network to provide an informed response to government before the consultation deadline of 21 May.
If you have any imminent queries regarding the consultation, please contact our policy team on email@example.com
Comply Direct can help businesses to prepare for EPR
We can help your business prepare for EPR impacts. Our EPR Impact Assessment service is designed to support obligated packaging producers with understanding the effects EPR will have on their business, including financial, data and reporting aspects. You will also gain expert recommendations on how to prepare and identification of what mitigation options are available to your business to reduce the impacts. Contact our solutions team for a no-obligation proposal on firstname.lastname@example.org