Valpak warns new EPR legislation in France is catching UK businesses unawares

Reconomy Group company Valpak reports that UK businesses are being caught unawares by the latest French EPR legislation.

France operates the only extended producer responsibility (EPR) schemes for textiles and furniture in the world. Last year, following the introduction of new EPR for DIY equipment, gardening equipment, and toys, a team from Valpak organised a scoping trip to Paris.


Reporting back, Kate Loosmore, International Compliance Manager at Valpak – the UK’s largest compliance scheme – said that those UK businesses unaware of the new regulations are facing serious repercussions.


She said: “Unlike UK compliance, the French schemes have no size threshold, so businesses are obligated as soon as they place one item onto the market. And with online marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay now held responsible for the compliance of sellers on their sites, companies face more scrutiny than ever. Some businesses have been threatened with suspension from trading on online sites until they can show proof of compliance.”


Many companies are caught out when the products included in a scheme represent only a small part of their business. For example, a fashion retailer may sell a small number of plant pots, or playing cards – items that fall under the new EPR for gardening equipment and toys.


Loosmore says that costs and data reporting requirements need to be taken into account when planning: “At Valpak, we are seeing invoices for our international customers rise substantially. Reporting can also be complex and time-consuming – to give an idea of scale, Valpak calculations show that the time required for reporting under the UK’s Plastic Packaging Tax, EPR, and the Deposit Return Scheme will rise by around 368 percent compared with current reporting.


Valpak’s Horizon Scanning service highlights the growing trend for environmental legislation around the world, while its sister company RLG operates close to 40 compliance schemes globally. Valpak research shows that EPR is catching on around the world. Sweden, the Netherlands, and Spain all have plans to implement textiles EPR; Finland is due to obligate all UK-based companies, and countries as far apart as Canada and Thailand are introducing new legislation.


Loosmore added: “Each country has different requirements – in some European countries, for example, a board game box is classed as packaging; in others, it is not. France plans to require retailers to organise take-back for products like toys, garden equipment, and electronics. For online sellers especially, this will be challenging. Preparation is crucial.”