On July 25, 2023, the United Kingdom’s Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) announced that implementation of a new Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) system for packaging will be delayed one year until October 2025. The EPR system would apply to all UK organizations that import or supply packaging and would place the financial cost of managing products once they reach end of life on these business operators.
The new EPR system would replace the current producer responsibility system for packaging, which has been in place since 1997. Following consultations in 2019 and 2021, the proposal to introduce EPR for packaging was published in March 2022. A few months later, on June 7, 2022, the UK published a Guidance on the EPR regulations for packaging outlining who is affected and what actions they need to take. The Guidance points out that organizations that do any of the following may be impacted:
- supply packaged goods to the UK market under your own brand
- place goods into packaging that is unbranded when it is supplied
- import products in packaging
- own an online marketplace
- hire or loan out reusable packaging
- supply empty packaging
Examples provided of who may be required to take action included a confectionery company that manufactures and packages sweets under its own brand and then sells those sweets to a supermarket, which then sells the sweets to UK consumers. In this instance, the confectionery company may need to take action. However, the confectionery company would not need to take action if it produced and packaged sweets under the supermarket’s brand, which the supermarket then sold. In this instance, the supermarket may need to take action.
Another Guidance, published on November 24, 2022, and updated on June 6, 2023, explains what packaging data needs to be collected. The Guidance notes that entities that have the required data recorded from January 1, 2023, should report that data and that entities that do not have all the required data beginning on January 1, 2023, must report all of their data from March 1, 2023.
On July 23, 2023, the UK Government and devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland jointly opened a consultation on the draft regulation for EPR for packaging across the UK. The executive summary of the consultation explains that the delay in implementing the EPR for packaging payments would give:
- Industry additional time to prepare for the new requirements, which may include reviewing and improving current packaging use
- Industry and local authorities more opportunity to be involved in the design of the scheme
- Local authorities and waste management companies more time to adjust current services and to introduce new efficient and effective services for EPR
Comments on the draft regulation are due by October 9, 2023.