PACKAGING WASTE: EXTENDED PRODUCER RESPONSIBILITY 2023
The UK’s packaging regime is about to change. The current Packaging Waste Regulations (Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulation 2007) are due to be phased out with the implementation of the new Extended Producer Responsibility legislation (Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) (Amendment) England and Wales) Regulations 2022 (SI2022/1222)).
From the 1st of January 2023, producers of packaging materials will have an increased level of responsibility in relation to packaging waste. The aim of the new regulations is to reduce the amount of waste going to landfills and increase the amount of recyclable waste being processed into high-quality secondary resources.
EXTENDED PRODUCER RESPONSIBILITY (‘EPR’)
The new regulations will apply to all organisations in the UK (excluding charities) that handle and supply packaging materials; this includes, but is not limited to organisations that place their logos or branding on packaging produced by a supplier and organisations that loan or hire reusable packaging.
Organisations that must comply with the regulations will need to:
- Collect and submit data on the packaging they handle and supply;
- Pay a waste management fee;
- Register for the EPR for packaging online service (registration opens for small organisations in 2024 and large organisations in April 2023)
- Buy packaging waste recycling notes (PRNs) or packaging waste export recycling notes (PERNs) to meet their recycling obligations; and
- Submit information about where their packaging has been sold, hired, loaned, gifted or discarded – this is called ‘nation data’.
The PRNs and PERNs are certificates that demonstrate that the packaging waste has been recycled properly. They can be bought from any accredited materials re-processors for each tonne of eligible packaging waste that has been recycled. The more packaging an organisation handles, the more PRNs/PERNs it must buy against the government set percentage targets.
The extent to which the new regulations will affect organisations depends on whether they fall within the definition of ‘large’ or ‘small’ organisation based on annual turnover and the amount of packaging they process each year.
The data reporting requirements under the new regime are going to become more complex. Businesses will be required to provide data on each type of material they use (quantity, type, weight) and explain how it is used (‘primary’, ‘secondary’ or ‘transit’ packaging). Individual reports will need to be completed for sales in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
From 2025, the ERP Scheme Administrator will adjust organisations’ waste management fee depending on the data they submitted in their reports (‘Modulated Fees’). The introduction of Modulated Fees means that the type of materials used, percentage of recycled materials used, and recyclability of organisations’ final packaging product will have an impact on the waste management fee that will be payable.
By 1 April 2026, organisations will also be required to display new recyclability labels ‘recycle’ or ‘do not recycle’ on their packaging.
HOW WILL THIS IMPACT BUSINESSES?
Organisations will need to ensure they have visibility of their packaging materials flows and materials used within the business. They will also need to understand which materials are cost and/or environmentally efficient.
Large organisations will be required to record data from 1 January 2023. The data will need to be submitted every six months in arrears. The Government has clarified that for the period January to June 2023, organisations must submit data between 1 July 2023 and 1 October 2023, and for the period July to December 2023, submit data between 1 January 2024 and 1 April 2024.
Small organisations have been granted more time to prepare for the changes. They will need to start recording data from 1 January 2023, but will not be required to submit that data until January 2024. Failure in meeting any of the requirements by the prescribed deadlines could result in monetary fines.
Companies with multiple subsidiaries will have the option to: 1. register as a whole group; 2. request that each subsidiary that falls within the requirements register individually; or 3. register as a parent company for part of their group. Options 1 and 3 would be more onerous for the parent company as they will be liable for their own and their subsidiaries’ compliance. The regulator can investigate organisations for ‘non-compliance’. Non-compliance can result in criminal prosecution, monetary penalties, and/or enforcement undertakings.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN GOING FORWARD?
In summary, the EPRs are going to change the UK’s packaging regime and require organisations to adapt quickly to the increased responsibility placed on them. Organisations will need to review their internal processes and supply chain to ensure they will be in a position to begin accurately capturing data from January 2023.