The Government is introducing new rules to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in the environment. Businesses that handle and supply packaging will be responsible for the costs of dealing with packaging once it becomes waste.
The scheme is called "Extended Producer Responsibility for Packaging" (packaging EPR) and the new rules will mean that from 2024, affected businesses must pay an "EPR" fee to cover the cost of managing their packaging. The aim of the rule is to provide a financial incentive to businesses to reduce the amount of packaging they use and also ensuring that any such package is easily recyclable.
The scheme will apply to all UK businesses that handle and produce packaging, if they have an annual turnover that exceeds £1 million and are responsible for handling and supplying 25 tonnes of packaging annually. Producers who classify as "large organisations" i.e. with a turnover of over £2 million annually and who handle and supply over 50 tonnes of packaging in a calendar year, must report under packaging EPR twice a year, with the first report due in October 2023.
In order to determine the EPR fees that producers will pay, the Government introduced reporting requirements on 28 February this year (The Packaging Waste (Data Reporting) (England) Regulations 2023). These require affected businesses to collect information on the amount and type of packaging they are using throughout the year. These requirements are currently only applicable to businesses in England, Northern Ireland and Scotland, with Wales to follow shortly.
The aim of packaging EPR is to shift the cost of collecting and managing household waste from taxpayers and local authorities to producers, and fits into the Government's broader plans to eliminate the use of avoidable plastic waste. The Government has published guidance on the reporting requirements and is also developing a digital platform for the scheme.
The UK's developments in EPR mirror EU law developments on sustainability reporting. On 5 January 2023, the EU's Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) entered into force. This requires all large companies and all listed companies (except micro-enterprises) to disclose information on risks and opportunities arising from social and environmental issues and the impacts of their activities on people and the environment.