Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is an extension of the existing UK Packaging Waste Regulations and is provisionally set to come into law on 28th February 2023. It marks an extensive change to the way UK organisations responsible for packaging carry out their recycling responsibilities. The users of packaging are now being asked to pay the full costs for the product’s lifecycle which includes packaging collection and recycling. Previously this cost was paid for either wholly or in part by local government.

To help our customers understand the implications better, we’ve put together the Q&A below. Please bear in mind, these regulations are being updated as the legislation is finalised so please check with your own legal and compliance bodies:

Why is the law around packaging being changed?

The government want the financial burden of waste collection treatment to be borne by the manufacturer or operator responsible for the product rather than local authorities. This is in line with the ‘polluter pays’ principle.

Additionally, the government wants to encourage companies to consider the lifecycle of products to reduce the impact on the environment.  This may be through improved design or the ability to recycle or reuse.

My business uses packaging – how will this affect me?

Whether your business is affected depends on the size of your business and amount of packaging used.

The regulations will apply to all UK organisations that handle and supply packaging including businesses (but not charities) with a turnover of £1million or more and responsible for over 25 tonnes of packaging in a calendar year (January to December).

This change affects all UK organisations that handle and supply packaging to consumers and to businesses selling goods in packaging in the UK. It applies whether the organisation is selling packaged goods under their own brand, placing goods into packaging that is unbranded, using transit packaging, importing goods in packaging, supplying empty packaging, hiring reusable packaging or owns an online marketplace.

How can I check my obligations?

Defra have provided an online tool for businesses to check their obligations. This tool provides guidance and does not retain data.

What will I need to do?

Companies affected will need to collect and submit data on the packaging handled and supplied; pay a waste management fee and buy packaging waste recycling notes (PRNs). Your organisation you may also need to submit ‘nation data’, reporting where packaging is disposed.

To understand the obligations under EPR, it is important to differentiate between two distinct sets of obligations.

When does this start?

If this affects your business, you must start collecting the correct packaging data from 1st January 2023.

How often do I need to report data?

Large organisations must report every 6 months; small organisations must report annually. For the period January to June 2023, report data between July 2023 and 1 October 2023. For the period July to December 2023, report data between 1 January 2024 and 1 April 2024.

What data do I need to collect?

Your data submission must include information about the: packaging activity, packaging material and weight, packaging type and waste type.

What are the implications of this change?

The biggest immediate change is an increase in producer compliance costs. PwC states that ‘the costs for packaging producers will increase from £200-300m a year, as currently incurred under the PRN system, to nearly £3bn per year’.

How are Sandland Packaging helping?

Using packaging is essential to ensure the safe and secure delivery of your precious products. We are experts at creating bespoke packaging and will make sure your packaging is the perfect fit – with no waste or unnecessary elements – to reduce your liabilities to the minimum.

As with all legislative matters, please check your obligations with your own compliance and legal departments. More information is available on the GOV website: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/packaging-waste-prepare-for-extended-producer-responsibility

You can also sign up for regular newsletter updates from Defra.