Packflow EPR report shows the scale of change approaching for packaging waste producers

With only a week for industry to respond to the government consultation on Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for Packaging Waste, the UK’s largest compliance scheme, Valpak, has released detailed modelling for a range of the proposed options.

James Skidmore, Head of Consulting at Valpak, said: “We already knew that overall costs for producers were set to rise from £230 million to £2.7 billion. However, under the modulated fee system, some packaging materials will bear a greater portion of the cost. Packflow EPR breaks down the figures to forecast the impact on different materials. It also shows how responsibility and funding could be allocated through different areas of the supply chain.

The report is the first of its kind. It incorporates data from Valpak’s Environment Product Information Centre (EPIC) database, which holds the most detailed metrics on packaging in the UK. It includes:

  • an overview of suggested EPR changes
  • the impact on different areas of the supply chain
  • possible impacts on the environment; and, most importantly
  • scenarios showing the potential scale of fee modulation, including the impact of new responsibilities for the management of litter. The modulated fee system aims to encourage the design of more sustainable packaging. It involves higher fees for less recyclable packaging products, or for those which do not contain recycled material

Packflow EPR analysis includes three modulation scenarios – one with a flat, per-tonne cost for recycling and disposal; a second that replaces the ‘flat rate’ with a three-tier, modulated value for each material; and a third ‘traffic-light’ method, which has the potential to drive positive change in packaging design, while also reflecting the likely distribution of costs, based on the recyclability of individual packaging.

The legislation is expected to come into effect in a phased approach from 2023, with the first payments made on, or before, April/May 2024. Under the new system, the financial obligation will move to a single point in the supply chain. Obligated businesses – proposed in the consultation to be brand owners and manufacturers – will be responsible for financing the whole lifecycle of packaging waste, including local authority collections and the management of litter.

Skidmore concluded: “We stand on the brink of the greatest changes to the Packaging Waste Regulations in a quarter of a century. Put simply, this consultation represents the most important opportunity for everyone to have their say into how the system could operate for a long time to come.

In the midst of a climate crisis, recycling can have a big impact, but the potential costs to producers are huge, and ensuring value for money for consumers will be critical. The increase in packaging recycling resulting from the new system will generate a carbon reduction of 4.38 million tonnes between 2022 and 2032. The entire industry needs to make its voice heard, and Packflow EPR will help packaging producers to make an informed choice.

View the full report here.