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30.08.2022
Latest News Insights / Quick Guide

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Insight Guide

Here is your quick KM guide to Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR). Find out what you need to know including why it's important, does it apply to you, timelines, action lists and more ...  

THE EXTENDED PRODUCER RESPONSIBILITY (EPR) – IN 30 SECONDS

  1. The Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is a reform of UK packaging waste regulations.
  2. EPR requires businesses placing material on the market to pay the entire net costs of collecting, sorting, recycling, and disposing of waste.
  3. It aims to incentivise producers to place more recyclable products on the market and reduce unnecessary packaging material.

WHY EPR IS BEING INTRODUCED

To …

  1. Avoid unnecessary packaging, reducing packaging and packaging waste.
  2. Replace single-use packaging with reusable or refillable packaging.
  3. Encourage design of packaging to be recyclable.
  4. Increase packaging waste recycling.
  5. Increase the quality of materials presented for recycling.
  6. Increase the amount of packaging that is recycled into high value and closed loop application.
  7. Lead to a reduction of packaging being littered.
  8. Turn a linear economy into one that is more circular.

DOES EPR APPLY TO YOU?

The EPR applies to all producers who place packaging on the market [1]. This includes:

  • Brand owners – who package goods and sell them under their brand name. When a brand is not identifiable, the obligation falls to the organisation that carries out the packing or filling of the packaging.
  • Importers – who import filled packaging.
  • Service providers – who hire out or lend reusable packaging.
  • Distributors – who manufacture or import empty packaging and sell that packaging to anyone who is not an obligated producer.
  • Online marketplaces – who operate a marketplace whereby non-UK sellers can sell filled or empty packaging to UK consumers.
  • Sellers – who sell filled packaging to the end-consumer.

If your company has a turnover of more than £1m and handles more than 25 tonnes of packaging you will need to report packaging placed on the market but not financially contribute.

If your company has a turnover of more than £2m and handles more than 50 tonnes of packaging you will be obligated to pay for EPR.

AT-A-GLANCE EPR TIMELINE

  • 2022 - Regulations in place.
  • 2023 - Start collecting correct packaging data from 1 January. Recyclability assessments completed and producers start reporting their packaging data. Public-sector Scheme Administrator appointed.
  • 2024 - EPR introduced with first payments due from April 2024, based on recyclability assessments completed in 2023.
  • 2025 - Modulated fees become fully operational.
  • 2026 - Mandatory labelling is introduced for packaging except for films and flexibles.
  • 2027 - Films and flexibles to be collected by local authorities and be obligated under the labelling system.

ACTION LIST FOR PRODUCERS

Under the new regulations [4], obligated producers will need to:

  1. Register for the EPR for packaging online service.
  2. Collect and submit data on the packaging that’s handled and supplied.
  3. Pay a waste management fee.
  4. Buy packaging waste recycling notes (PRNs) or packaging waste export recycling notes (PERNs) to meet recycling obligations.
  5. Clearly and consistently label packaging as to whether it can be recycled.

There may be penalty charges if you miss the deadline for submitting data. Large organisations will need to be submit data every 6 months.

PAYING THE PRICE OF EPR

  1. The Government estimates that producers’ costs will be around £2.7bn in the first full year of implementation [5].
  2. The fees that producers pay will initially be calculated in 2024.
  3. At first, fees will depend on the material disposal costs.
  4. Thereafter, fees will be based on comprehensive recyclability assessments.
  5. Producers who use unrecyclable packaging will be required to pay higher fees.
  6. Fees will be modulated to deliver funding to support additional collection and upgrading of the recycling infrastructure.
  7. As part of full net cost payments, producers of commonly littered packaging, such as fast food packaging and single-use cups, will be made responsible for its management costs.

EXPECTED FEE MODULATION METHODOLOGY

This is still to be confirmed by the UK Government (DEFRA), so the details surrounding the methodology and processes are not yet known. However, we anticipate the following factors will be included:  

  1. The type of material you are placing on the market.
  2. Whether it is recyclable or not.
  3. Does it include post-consumer recycled (PCR) content, and therefore promote circularity?
  4. Place of consumption e.g. at home, on-the-go, and correct labelling.

MANDATORY LABELLING

  • All packaging types except plastic films and flexibles to be labelled Recycle / Do Not Recycle by 31st March 2026.
  • Products will require the “Recycle Now”’ logo.
  • Producers (brand owners) can choose the labelling scheme.
  • Plastic films and flexibles to be labelled by 31st March 2027.
  • Biodegradable / compostable materials to be labelled as “Do Not Recycle”.
  • Communication will be required on pack on how to recycle – What, How, and Where.

ADOPTION AROUND THE WORLD

EPR is being implemented around the world. Adopters [6] include:

  • Europe – Plastic waste and e-waste management is mandatory under the extended producer responsibility in the European Union.
  • Australia – With provisions similar to the European EPR standards, Australia aims to shift to 100% recyclable packaging by 2025.
  • USA – There are 115 EPR policies across 33 states, covering hard-to-recycle or bulky materials.
  • New Zealand – The concepts of EPR have been introduced in New Zealand with producers being required to implement take-back and recyclability programmes across plastic packaging and e-waste.
  • South Africa – EPR has been mandatory since 2021 for packaging companies in South Africa.

KM’S VIEWPOINT

“Extended Producer Responsibility will be a key, if not the principle, driver in packaging development in the foreseeable future.” ­
–  Alan Lockhart, Business Unit Director, KM Packaging.

FURTHER READING

Sources:

  1. British Plastics Foundation
  2. Ecosurety
  3. Zero Waste Scotland
  4. GOV.UK
  5. DEFRA
  6. Recykal

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