This webpage has been updated since its original publication on 3rd August 2023, to include content about REA’s response to the most recent EPR consultation and a link to our consultation response document.

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Deferral of payments by packaging producers

On 25th July, Defra and Rebecca Pow MP announced that ‘following extensive engagement with industry, and in light of the pressure facing consumers and businesses in the current economic context, new [UK-wide] rules to ensure packaging producers pay for the cost of recycling their packaging will be deferred a year from October 2024 to 2025’.

‘Government will use the additional year to continue to discuss the scheme’s design with industry and reduce the costs of implementation wherever possible. In anticipation of EPR, producers have already started to use less packaging and adopt easier to recycle packaging formats, and we expect this process to continue – ensuring that costs are not then passed onto households later on.’

‘This decision to defer producer payments has been taken jointly with the devolved administrations and will provide industry, local authorities and waste management companies with more time to prepare to ensure the success of the scheme, helping make sure it is best designed to deliver on long term recycling goals while supporting households with the immediate challenge of high prices caused by inflation.’

More concisely, in its Collection and Packaging Reforms newsletter sent to subscribers on 26th July (click here to subscribe) Defra wrote: ‘The Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for packaging payments will be deferred for 12 months, but work to design, develop and implement the scheme will continue during this period. This means producers obligated to pay packaging waste fees will now not need to make payments until October 2025 for 2025/26.’

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Consultation on draft Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging and Packaging Waste) Regulations 2024

Following consultations in 2019 and 2021, the UK Government and Devolved Administrations of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales confirmed in March 2022 their proposals to introduce Extended Producer Responsibility for packaging.  Since then, they have been developing the draft regulations which will introduce the measures set out in that response.

Announced on 28th July, the UK Government, the Scottish Government, the Welsh Government and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs in Northern Ireland jointly undertook a 10 week consultation on the draft regulations that will implement Extended Producer Responsibility for packaging on a UK-wide basis.

They invited, by close of 9th October 2023, stakeholders’ views on;

  • how the approach set out in the government response to the EPR consultation held in March 2022 has been reflected in these draft regulations and how easy they will be to implement, and
  • how clear the draft regulations are about the relevant responsibilities of producers, exporters, reprocessors, compliance schemes, local authorities and councils and the scheme administrator.

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REA’s response to the consultation

REA’s full response to the consultation is HERE and some of our points were:

  • The draft statutory instrument needs to be made clear on whether compostable packaging collected with food waste or with food and garden waste is exempt from EPR.
  • Large Producers of compostable packaging should pay EPR fees, on condition that the fee revenue then returns to the organic recycling sector to improve recycling of compostable packaging – and the food waste / beverage residues adhered to it – and reduce the amount of non-compostable packaging that organic recycling facilities must remove as best they can.
  • Compostable packaging can be polymer-based (plastic-like), cellulose-based, paper/card, a polymer-fibre composite, or made from wool, algae, wood or mycelium. REA asked how compostable should be reported, e.g. as a sub-category of plastics where the product is plastic-like, as a sub-category of fibre-based composites where the product is a fibre-based composite, or as a sub-category of ‘other materials’ (given the material types set out in the draft SI)?
  • REA then said compostable packaging should be named as a specific material category separate from any other; this is also relevant to fees organic recyclers would pay to be registered reprocessors accredited to issue Packaging Recovery Notes (PRN fee structure is per material type the reprocessor evidences that they reprocess). [Since the consultation we hear the EPR system may charge different fees, to compostable packaging producers, for different compostable packaging material types.]
  • The Large Producers’ obligations include their, or a third party’s, assessment of the recyclability of their EPR-relevant packaging and this must be done as per the Scheme Administrator’s published guidance. Until the SA’s guidance has been published or a draft of it is made available to stakeholders, it is not clear whether the assessment can solely be on suitability of the material or materials in a packaging product to be recycled or whether other factors must also be included in the assessment, e.g. how widely is the product type collected for recycling if it is likely to be discarded from a household?
  • The draft SI’s intention that packaging must either be labelled 1) “Do Not Recycle” and use the line-through-the-swoosh symbol OR 2) “Recycle” and use the swoosh symbol; these options appear not to also provide for organically recyclable packaging. Third party certifiers licence use of their certification marks on, and in connection with, compostable packaging that has a valid (unexpired) certificate issued by the certifier. Such third party certification is required under UK End of Waste rules [and under England’s permits to compost or anaerobically digest biodegradable wastes]. The compostables labelling scene in the UK is evolving and is the subject of recent and current UKRI-funded research.  REA said it would like to discuss with government a labelling approach that could work for third party certified compostable packaging under the EPR system.

Members can contact the REA here.