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Defra legislates on packaging data collection ahead of EPR reforms

Defra yesterday (23 November) published a Statutory Instrument (SI) in parliament which details the process of collecting and submitting data for businesses ahead of the extended producer responsibility (EPR) reforms which are expected in 2024.

Houses of ParliamentPackaging producers in England will be required to begin data collection from March 2023. This will inform the fees these producers will pay in line with EPR.

The legislation, Packaging Waste (Data Reporting) (England) Regulations 2022, which will extend to England and Wales, but apply to England only, gives the Environment Agency enforceable powers over EPR - a key step to the introduction of new rules for packaging producers.

The SI requires companies that have an annual turnover of more than £2 million and place more than 50 tonnes of packaging onto the market to increase the frequency of reporting from once to twice a year, from January 2023.

It also mandates the need for local authorities to compile lists of items which are collected by each Local Authority in England and from this determine a list of items which are collected by more than three-quarters of Local Authorities.

Exclusions to EPR apply to charities, producers of reused packaging, reused secondary or tertiary packaging and packaging produced under schemes which allow exclusions from EPR – although data must still be collected in this case. There is also an exclusion for packaging which is exported from the UK and production residues from the production of packaging that occurs during or after the producer handled the packaging or packaging materials.

Producers with an annual turnover of between £1 million and £2 million and who handle between 25 and 50 tonnes of packaging per year will be required to collect but not report this data as, at present, they will not be eligible to pay EPR fees. It is predicted this will mean 1,823 more businesses will now be effected affected by the reforms.

The UK Government has updated its website with two articles detailing the current progress on EPR and how to collect data.

Producers

The proposed legislation sets out several clarifications for the classification of ‘producers’. The term refers to any individual performing, either on their own behalf or an agent acting on their behalf and in the course of a business, the function of a brand owner, a packer or filler, an importer, a distributor, an online marketplace operator, a service provider or a seller.

According to Defra, regulations will apply to all UK organisations that handle and supply packaging to consumers and businesses, UK organisations that import products from outside the UK, and to online marketplaces.

Producers are required to maintain any data they collect for seven years, which may be done through a compliance scheme.

Regulators

The SI defines a UK regulator as either the Environment Agency, Natural Resources Body for Wales, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs for Northern Ireland. Regulators will have the enforcement powers and responsibility for ensuring EPR is followed.

The Government has indicated that it plans to address questions of transparency through the use of a ‘ready reckoner’ tool which will become available in early 2023 and will help predict data and finances.