UK governments join forces with industry to expand EPR system

The UK Government and the devolved administrations in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales are working with three industry bodies to enhance part of the new Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) system.

It will explore the ways in which producers’ fees for packaging could be used to financially incentivise a wider adoption of recyclable packaging; while a higher charge could be given to producers using non-recyclable packaging.

Packaging WasteThe participating bodies are the Industry Council for Packaging and the Environment (INCPEN), the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), and the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

In all four nations, there is an increasing demand for producers to take on the full net costs of recycling. A survey carried out in September revealed that 64 per cent of the public want producers to pay for recycling instead of British taxpayers.

A three phase plan has been laid out to show how the parliaments intend to go about the EPR scheme.

The first phase is to categorise the different kinds of packaging to ensure each area is covered. The second phase involves exploring the range of fee modulation mechanisms that reward companies performing well.

The final phase will be reviewing the first two phases to make sure that they are meeting the intended EPR behaviours and outcomes the four governments are aiming for.

The first two phases have a deadline of April 2021 and the third phase is to be delivered by the end of July 2021.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) will be launching a public consultation on the EPR scheme in early 2021.

Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said, “We must boost our recycling performance and one of the vital ways to do that is through Extended Producer Responsibility. This is one of the key waste reforms within our landmark Environment Bill, which will ensure that we continue to go further and faster to recycle more of our waste and reduce the resources that we use.”

Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for the Environment Roseanna Cunningham said, “Effective EPR for packaging and other materials will be an important part of establishing more sustainable and circular practices in how we use resources and I welcome the involvement of Scottish businesses and experts in this work to help ensure this new approach delivers for Scotland.”

Ian Wright CBE, CEO of the FDF said, “The food and drink sector is a substantial part of the UK economy, contributing some £28 billion, including through the value of our exports. Packaging has an essential role in keeping food safe and fresher for longer.

“It is therefore important this project delivers a fee system for packaging EPR that is both fair and does not damage the competitiveness of UK business in a post Brexit world. The system also needs to reward those manufacturing businesses that are doing the right thing by working to deliver a truly circular economy for packaging in the UK.”

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