Questions raised around timeline for Extended Producer Responsibility

Questions have been raised about the timeline for the introduction of Extended Producer Responsibility, following a possible delay to the consultation responses.

Chris Preston, deputy director for resources and waste at Defra, spoke at the RWM trade show last week via live video in a session, chaired by letsrecycle.com‘s editor, Steve Eminton. Chris Preston was asked about the release of the consultation responses and replied that they could be published “later this year or early next”.

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is one of four ongoing areas of reform to the UK & Resources Waste strategy alongside Deposit Return Scheme (DRS), Plastic Tax and consistency of waste collections, which will have a phased implementation from 2023. These changes will significantly impact those who place packaging onto the UK market.

The long-awaited second round of consultations were released earlier this year for Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) and Consistency in Collections. With consultations having faced several delays, the timetables previously set out for the introduction of such significant changes to regulations have looked increasingly unrealistic for both businesses and councils.

Under Extended Producer Responsibility, a scheme administrator will be appointed to oversee many aspects of the system, including the collection of business payments in and distribution to local councils. This is currently planned for 2023 as part of the staggered introduction for EPR.
Many of the aspects of EPR, DRS and Consistency in Collections are welcomed, with the environmental outcomes sought by government widely seen as a positive step across the industry. Stakeholders have, however, raised concerns over the lack of detail currently available and with so much uncertainty about the future, many businesses are finding it difficult to make significant investment.

"We are advising all of our members to increase the data they have around packaging and enhance current reporting, but many businesses remain in limbo."

Martin Trigg-Knight

Martin Trigg-Knight, Head of Packaging at Clarity Environmental, said:

“Our members are keen to understand EPR and want to drive forward with sustainability measures, but there is an overwhelming amount of uncertainty, particularly for SME businesses. It is especially difficult for those having to simultaneously deal with the changes resulting from Brexit and haulage issues, whilst also preparing for the introduction of the Plastic Packaging Tax and Scottish Deposit Return System.”

“We are advising all of our members to increase the data they have around packaging and enhance current reporting, but many businesses remain in limbo, reluctant to make substantial decision about their packaging as they may need to be adapted in light of the demands around EPR and DRS. We are continuing to work closely with Defra, which ensure we represent our members’ interests and keep them informed as decisions are made.”

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