Is your organisation ready for the new extended producer responsibility scheme?
Are you a UK company which handles or supplies packaging? New Regulations are set to come in which will change the way in which you are responsible for your packaging recycling responsibility. Get prepared for extended producer responsibility now.
With there being a strong focus on waste production in the UK, the new Regulations are set to change the way UK businesses handling or suppling packaging must manage their recycling responsibilities, through the adoption of an extended producer responsibility (EPR) scheme.
What is EPR?
EPR is an environmental policy approach which requires producers to be responsible for the packaging they place on the UK market, at the end of its life. It seeks to achieve a reduction in the environmental impact of products throughout their life cycle, from production through to end-of-life. EPR follows the ‘polluter pays’ principle, if you produce the pollution, you should bear the costs of managing the impact on the environment and human health. Under EPR proposals, packaging producers will be made responsible for the entire cost of recycling the packaging they place on the market; this includes the cost of collection, treatment, and recycling.
The new EPR system will replace the current Packaging Waste Regulations with a phased implementation from 2023.
Do you need to take action?
Current, guidance states this change will affect all UK organisations which handle* or supply packaging.
*Under the current Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations 2007, handling activities are explained Schedule 1.
The size of your organisation (small or large) will determine the actions you need to take.
You will be classed as a small organisation if either of the following apply:
- your annual turnover is between £1 million and £2 million, and you are responsible for handling and supplying 25 tonnes + of empty packaging or packaged goods through the UK market in a calendar year; or
- your annual turnover is over £1 million and you are responsible for handling and supplying between 25 tonnes and 50 tonnes of empty packaging or packaged goods through the UK market in a calendar year.
You will be classed as a large organisation if both of the following apply:
- your annual turnover is £2 million or more; and
- you are responsible for handling and supplying more than 50 tonnes of empty packaging or packaged goods in the UK in a calendar year.
What action do I need to take?
The size of your organisation will determine the duties and actions you have and the dates whereby you need to comply with these.
To comply you must:
- take steps to record data about all the empty packaging and packaged goods you handle and supply through the UK market from 1st January 2023;
- register for the EPR for packaging online service (registration opens for small organisations in 2024);
- pay an annual fee to the environmental regulator from 2024; and
- submit data about empty packaging and packaged goods you handled or supplied through the UK market throughout 2023.
You’ll need to submit your 2023 data between 1st January 2024 and 1 April 2024. Missed payments will result in a penalty charge.
To comply you must:
- take steps to record data about the empty packaging and packaged goods you handle and supply in the UK from 1st January 2023;
- register for the EPR for packaging online service from April 2023;
- pay a fee to the environmental regulator;
- buy packaging waste recycling notes (PRNs) or packaging waste export recycling notes (PERNs) to meet your recycling obligations; and
- submit data about empty packaging and packaged goods you handled or supplied through the UK market.
You’ll need to submit data every 6 months.
Organisations selling goods in the UK, including Distributors, Retailers, Online Marketplaces, and Sellers may also need to submit ‘nation data’ (separate volumes and material types of packaging placed on the market, broken down into England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland). 2023 data will need to be submitted by December 2024.
Organisations may use a compliance scheme to complete certain steps on their behalf.
If you handle and supply any packaging that is collected by local authorities from households or street bins, from April 2024 you must pay the scheme administrator a fee for this.
The current guidance states these Regulations will not apply to charities.
The specific packaging activities which will come under these Regulations include:
- packaging own-brand products to sell to UK consumers;
- using a third party to package and sell own-brand goods to UK consumers;
- using ‘transit packaging’ to protect goods during transport so they can be sold to UK consumers;
- importing own-brand and third-party packaged products into the UK to sell to consumers, unless doing so on behalf of a third party (such as a supermarket);
- allowing third parties based outside the UK to sell packaged products or empty packaging through an online marketplace that you own;
- hiring or loaning out reusable packaging to UK third parties; and
- making and then selling empty packaging to third-party organisations that do not need to take action under the regulations.
Further guidance on EPR can be found on the Governments website.
All UK organisations which handle, or supply packaging will need to comply with the new EPR regulations in some way. These Regulations have not yet been published and are expected to be published in 2022 – 2023.