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