The British Home Enhancement Trade Association (BHETA) has warned that the UK Government is planning to introduce new legislation called Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) which will totally overhaul the current PRN system and involve the most significant change to Packaging Regulations for a generation.
EPR is currently set to be charged in the UK from 2024 based on the levels of 2023 packaging handled by producers and will have a significant impact on BHETA members.
In June 2022, outline Government guidance was published with the expectation that legislation would follow but as of 17th November 2022, no legislation has appeared, causing a situation of uncertainty.
The principle underpinning EPR is that there will be a huge shift in financial responsibility for the treatment of waste packaging, with producers picking up 100% of the bill. In 2022, the costs for kerbside recycling/disposable of packaging from branded products is split roughly as follows:
10% by producers through PRNs; 10% by retailers; 80% by the taxpayer through Council taxes.
Under EPR in 2023, for payment in 2024, this will change to: 100% of the cost of collection and disposal will be met by Producers through modified PRNs.
This is forecast to increase packaging PRN costs for by eight to ten times compared to 2021 costs, although the precise detail is not available from Government.
In 2025, a “modulated fee system” is expected to be introduced to provide discounts depending on the environmental impact of the packaging placed on the market. Packaging that can be easily recycled will attract lower EPR fees compared to hard to recycle packaging. This will therefore provide financial incentives for producers to use more sustainable materials. It is likely that more detail in the reporting of packaging will be required in 2024.
What do producers NEED to do differently in 2023 for Extended Producer Responsibility?
At present there is no guidance saying you MUST do anything substantially different in your 2023 PRN returns. The Government guidance says that you must report in 2023 in largely the same manner. Your Compliance scheme owner, which for many BHETA members is Wastepack, will be the first to tell you if you need to do anything differently.
BHETA is advising producers to review all their packaging and carefully consider every bag, box and item in your packaging. Think if there is a way to remove, reduce or make it from more recycled and recyclable material. This will very likely reduce your EPR charges in the future but will also reduce the impact of your products on the planet, which will appeal to consumers.
Let your suppliers know that you will at some point be legally required to get a more detailed breakdown of the materials used in your packaging, potentially in 2024.
It is also advisable to wait for detailed Government advice ahead of making changes so that you only do it once. Listen carefully to all communications from your Compliance Scheme owner who are the experts in this field. If you are not part of a Compliance Scheme, BHETA urges you to calculate the volume of packaging your business currently deals with, as the minimum threshold for being required to pay under EPR is likely to half to 25 tonnes. It is recommended that you contact Wastepack for more information about joining a Compliance Scheme: email@example.com
Paul Van Danzig, Policy Director at Wastepack, said: “The biggest current challenge with Extended Producer Responsibility is the uncertainty. There is no draft legislation, and the June 2022 guidelines don’t specify any changes in reporting in 2023. Until you hear any different from your Compliance Scheme I would not recommend planning any substantial changes to your reporting in order that you make the right changes”.
Steve Richardson at BHETA said: “The direction of travel for Government is certainly towards higher fees for higher volumes of packaging and for less sustainable materials. I’d suggest that BHETA members work on projects looking at all possible ways to minimise your volume of packaging materials and to switch to recycled and recyclable materials where possible.”
Will Jones at BHETA said: “BHETA intends to contest the proposed EPR changes. In early November, when the country has a confirmed set of Ministers, we will write to all concerned in Government, and we will encourage all BHETA members to write to their MP and the Minister at DEFRA urging them to abandon these plans, or at least to delay and phase the changes”.