UK – a brave new world in a European context

Abbie Burford, Commercial Account Manager, looks at how various European countries meet EU packaging waste requirements and uses her knowledge to predict the shifts businesses may see (in terms of UK environmental compliance reporting and obligations), as a result of forthcoming Extended Producer Responsibility legislation and the Plastic Packaging Tax.

After nearly two years of trade show suspension, The Recycling and Waste Management (RWM) show returned to the NEC in Birmingham this September. The day brings together businesses from across the sector and gives them a platform to pitch products and services.


As firm partners and therefore regular attendees of the RWM, Valpak hosted its own theatre where speakers from across the business and collaborators presented on key areas, most notably the upcoming changes to the UK packaging compliance system: the introduction of Extended Producer Responsibility for packaging and a Plastic Packaging Tax.

For those familiar with the UK Packaging Waste Regulations, these represent the most significant modifications to the legislation since its inception in 1997. Conversely, this “new” system that is coming into the UK is, in fact, the model which EU member states based their own packaging waste requirements on, in response to the same EU Waste Packaging Directive that sparked the UK’s shared responsibility system.

Valpak is instrumental in the ongoing consultations towards the finalisation of the transition to EPR and plastic packaging tax. Valpak is also in the fortunate position of being a front-running industry representative for packaging producers across the UK and therefore immediately understands the concerns that these changes have caused across all UK business areas. For this reason, we were keen to present the UK’s position alongside long-standing EPR systems in Europe, to reassure producers that this concept is far from new.

Mirroring the title of this blog, my manager Nicole and I did just that during our 30-minute speaking slot at the RWM. We represent a unique partnership, as we have undertaken identical career paths within Valpak, starting in the International Environmental Compliance department as account managers, then progressing to the UK Data Insights team as Commercial Account Managers. Our similar experiences have provided us both with the expertise to make connections between existing systems and proposed systems, and foresee expected shifts, as a result of two key new drivers – the EU Circular Economy Action Plan (March 2020) and the Single-use Plastics Directive (July 2019).

For those who were unable to attend the talk, the key points are summarised below:

Where do we go from here?

These potential and confirmed changes will inevitably raise concerns for businesses trading and supplying to the UK, particularly the requirements for and level of reporting to reduce the financial impact of EPR for packaging and the Plastic Packaging Tax, both in the UK and abroad.

Valpak offer tools, services, and expertise to significantly ease this burden for businesses, so please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions you may have:

[email protected]

[email protected]

Or visit our events page to book a one to one EPR clinic.