Extended producer responsibility (EPR) for packaging - fees delayed

Date : 27 July 2023

The government has announced that elements of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for packaging will be delayed from October 2024 to October 2025.

What is EPR?

The EPR concept is a modification of existing laws around waste management (eg: the Packaging Waste Regulations). It was introduced by the Environment Act 2021.

Under the EPR system, businesses that put packaged products onto the UK market (packaging producers) will become responsible for reporting on the amount and type of packaging used, and also for the cost of dealing with their packaging at end-of-life. This cost was previously carried by local government and, ultimately, by taxpayers.

Similar systems also exist in other countries and have been shown to work, although system design is critical to achieving the desired outcome.

What has been announced?

UK businesses that are covered by EPR will still be required to record and report on their use of packaging, in-line with the previous schedule. The payment of fees will now be delayed from October 2024 to October 2025.

Government documents emphasise that it remains committed to developing EPR and to improved environmental performance generally.

IGD Viewpoint

The decision to delay the introduction of EPR fees will help to reduce the expected increase in costs in the short term for packaging producers that were expecting to pay EPR fees in 2024.

The delay, therefore, may help to reduce current inflationary pressures on shoppers, especially in the food and grocery market – this is the government’s stated intent.

However, payment of fees has only been pushed back by a year and so inflationary effects may have been delayed rather than side-stepped.

Also, some businesses have already incurred administrative cost in preparing for the new scheme – hopefully, the benefit of this work will not be lost.

The target date for implementation is now beyond the next election but, for now, that EPR is still government policy.

Businesses should, therefore, continue developing their capability and engaging with government to perfect system design.

A potential weak spot of EPR in England is a lack of capability to recover and recycle waste from households and businesses in a consistent way. This activity is currently under the control of local authorities and therefore varies between jurisdictions.

Alongside the EPR delay, the government also announced that consistent recycling collections for households will come into force after EPR is implemented.

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