Draft packaging EPR regulations sent to European Union and World Trade Organisation

Draft Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging and Packaging Waste) Regulations 2024 have now been sent to the European Union (EU) and World Trade Organisation (WTO), as announced by Defra on 1 May 2024. 

This is a significant and important step towards implementing packaging Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) regulations across the UK in 2025. The regulations provide clarity to the entire packaging supply chain, across all four nations, helping all involved to prepare for the introduction of EPR next year.  

When will EPR and packaging fees be introduced? 

The regulations are currently with the EU and WTO for an agreed notification period, of 60 days for the EU and 90 days for the WTO. After this, they will be brought before UK Parliament later this year, with the aim of bringing EPR into force by 1 January 2025.  

Packaging producers will be required to report data from packaging they’ve placed on the market between January 2024 to December 2024. Producers will begin accruing fees for the management of their packaging, once it becomes household packaging waste from April 2025, with fee modulation being introduced from 2026. All recyclability labelling obligations will now come into force on a single date, the 1 April 2027. 

What changes have been made to the draft regulations? 

Following feedback from across the value chain and the packaging EPR consultation, changes to the draft Regulations include: 

  • The addition of recycling targets for 2025 - 2030.

  • The introduction of a provision ensuring that if a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) has not been established by 1 January 2028, producers of drinks containers made of PET plastic, aluminum and steel will be subject to the full range of packaging EPR obligations until a DRS is operational for this material. 

  • Labelling provisions have been amended so that all labelling obligations will now come in to force on the 1 April 2027.  

  • The removal of provisions on binned waste and litter payments, which will now be delivered through a separate regulation. 

  • The Scheme Administrator must now provide guidance on the methodology used and factors considered in assessing net efficient disposal costs and effectiveness.  

  • The household packaging definition has been revised to widen the criteria which allows packaging to become exempt from being classified as household packaging, and therefore exempt from disposal cost fees. This definition mirrors the definitions in the relevant data reporting regulations in each nation.  

Further detail on these changes, and other key changes made to the Regulations can be found here.  

To help businesses get ready for packaging EPR, the four UK administrations will issue a call for evidence to finalise the approach to modulation. This comes after engaging with the entire value chain, including industry, Local Authorities, eNGOs, and consumer groups. They will also release illustrative base fees in response to industry requests for cost information.

What should packaging producers do now? 

If not done so already, the most important action for packaging producers to take now is to submit all 2023 EPR data as soon as possible by 31 May 2024. By this date, if packaging producers have not reported their data, they may face enforcement action. 

If you are an Ecosurety member and have concerns about meeting your data reporting deadlines, we strongly encourage you to contact your Account Manager as soon as possible so that we can help.   

Defra is hosting a stakeholder webinar on Thursday 9 May at 11am - 12:30pm, providing more detail of changes made to the Regulations and opportunities to ask any questions. You can register here to attend.  

A “clear path” ahead 

Ecosurety’s Director of Policy and Innovation, Robbie Stanniforth, is currently a member of the steering committee which is advising the Scheme Administrator for Packaging Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) in the UK.  

Robbie commented: "Having worked closely with Government to design the system over the last few years, it is great to see that they have finally notified the WTO and EU. This an important step in the process of bringing a system into existence that will motivate packaging producers to use more recyclable packaging or refillable packaging systems in the UK. In a few short months, there will be a clear path for this legislation to be laid and passed in parliament. Given we started this process in 2018, it has been a long time coming. Tribute should be paid to the resilience of the civil servants who have worked to design and draft the legislation we see today." 

If you are an Ecosurety Member and have any questions or concerns about meeting the 31 May 2024 submission deadline, please get in touch with your Account Manager, or email us at info@ecosurety.com.

Written by Louise Shellard Published 02/05/2024 Topics Sustainability
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