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Packaging Producer Responsibility Regime Proposed by Defra

David Daw
Apr 17, 2014

Changes to the operation of the Packaging Producer Responsibility Regime proposed by Defra

In a publication, “Defra better for business: strategic reform plan for Defra’s regulations”, released on 9 April, Defra announced that they wish to amend the threshold tests.

A Defra spokesperson gave further information about these plans last week at the Advisory Committee on Packaging’s (ACP) Special Conference.

Defra declared that they are looking to make some modifications to the Packaging Waste Regulations to both reduce the regulatory burden of the regulations, especially on smaller businesses as part of the Government’s ‘red tape’ cuts programme, and to stop the perceived unfairness of the PRN system between UK recycling and exports.

Amendments to the guidance for accredited reprocessors and exporters should be available before the end of April, while the changes to the regulations with regard to the threshold tests are likely to go ahead for 2015. The Government appears minded to exempt companies with turnovers below £5 million, although this will not be confirmed until later this year.

Valpak welcomes moves to simplify the Packaging Waste Regulations. However, it should be noted that, in order to allow smaller companies to no longer register, the burden would need to be picked up by larger producers. It is most likely this would happen by either:

  • Making amendments to current forms of ‘supply’ to ensure packaging no longer reported by smaller businesses is picked up by larger businesses
  • Ensuring that packaging which has avoided an obligation in the past is obligated
  • Increasing business targets for those still obligated

The Government has also advised that it only wants to make minimal changes to the Packaging Waste Regulations for the near future, despite some calls for major changes to the entire system. It should be remembered that the current system has allowed the UK to achieve the European targets, even with high glass prices in 2013 at cost of under £150 million (including registration and data collection costs). Forecasts before the Packaging Waste Regulations came into force in 1997 assumed this cost would be over £1 billion per annum based on the European experience.

Valpak also welcomes the Environment Agency (EA) initiative to level the playing field between UK reprocessors and exporters. Valpak assumes this will be implemented by protocols on exporters so that only a percentage of the weight of each load exported would be eligible to have Packaging Waste Export Recovery Notes (PERNs) issued. Valpak would encourage the EA to make the tonnage of PERNs of each protocol visible on the National Packaging Weights Database (NPWD) in the same manner for metals protocols.

Valpak will advise its members when more details of any proposed changes are revealed during the year.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this weblog represent those of the individual authors and not those of Valpak Limited or any other organisation.