Producers' obligations under Extended Producer Responsibility for packaging
Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for packaging will bring new obligations for businesses that are legally required to comply with the current Packaging Waste Regulations and will cast the net further to obligate some producers that currently don't need to comply. In his latest blog, Henry Smith, Valpak Policy Researcher provides a summary of the various ways different businesses will be obligated.
Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for packaging is the most significant overhaul of the UK’s Packaging Waste Regulations since they were first introduced in 1997. Every business involved in the supply of packaging to the UK market will in some way be impacted by these landmark reforms.
Here we dig into the new ways in which different businesses in the supply chain will be obligated for packaging waste under EPR.
Packaging in scope of EPR
To comprehend the full range of the new obligations being brought in by EPR, it is important to understand which packaging is affected. Whilst many think EPR will only apply to household packaging, this is far from true. Those responsible for the supply in the UK of any packaging, regardless of whether it becomes household or non-household waste, will be affected by the reforms, with household packaging being subject to new financial obligations. As a result, whether your business supplies household or non-household packaging onto the market, EPR will affect your business in some way.
A full breakdown of other significant misconceptions, including how to determine if your packaging is household or non-household, can be found on my previous blog here.
Since 1997, businesses from across the packaging supply chain, from raw packaging material manufacturers all the way to retailers, have been required to declare their packaging activities to regulators and pay towards packaging waste management costs.
Going forward, UK packaging producer responsibility will pivot away from placing liability on entire supply chains towards only directly affecting a single business. Since new regulations (found here) passed into law on 1 March, the reporting of packaging placed on the UK market in 2023 has sat with brand owners, importers of non-UK brands, fillers of unbranded packaging, those distributing packaging to small businesses, online marketplaces for packaging around non-UK branded goods coming into the UK or those leasing reusable packaging to other businesses.
This change could see the financial obligations of businesses go up where they are obligated, and acquire responsibility for costs previously covered by the suppliers or customers, but go down where they assist in another business’s packaged goods reaching the UK market.
New thresholds which determine whether a business must declare its packaging activities to regulators are also now in effect.
Those with an annual turnover of £1m or more and that have supplied at least 25 tonnes of packaging to the UK market across the last year are newly required to declare data. Whilst these ‘small’ businesses are now affected by the Packaging Waste Regulations, it remains the case that only those ‘large’ producers that have an annual turnover of £2m or more and have supplied at least 50 tonnes of packaging last year are required to pay waste management fees.
Affected businesses will now have to declare their packaging activities in greater detail and with greater regularity.
Large producers have to submit data twice a year; the first submission, covering the period 1 January to 30 June, is due by 1 October of a given year. The second submission, covering the period from 1 July to 31 December, is due by 1 April of the following year.
Small producers make a single annual submission, covering their activities for the entire year, by 1 April of the following year.
Large producers will have to report whether their packaging is household or non-household, street bin litter, a drinks container in scope of a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) in England, Wales, or Northern Ireland, as well as additional information if they have collected and recycled that packaging themselves. Small producers will be required to similarly report some of these details.
Large producers will be obligated to finance packaging waste management. This will be through a combination of all packaging being subject to packaging waste recovery note (PRN/PERN) obligations (bearing in mind single-party responsibility for procuring these PRNs/PERNs) and household packaging being subject to additional EPR fee obligations.
These EPR fees will contribute to local authority waste collection and management costs, whilst PRNs will continue to contribute to the reprocessing of this collected packaging waste. Street bin litter also incurs EPR fees in addition to PRN obligations as the cost of managing street bins shifts onto packaging producers under EPR reforms.
In order to understand the full impacts of EPR, both financially and for data gathering and reporting, you can access our dedicated resources here.