What is Extended Producer Responsibility?

Extended Producer Responsibility puts the responsibility for recycling packaging materials back onto the manufacturer or importer. It will come into effect this year and cost UK businesses an additional £1.4bn in compliance fees

UPDATE: Extended Producer Responsility, rules which would have made companies responsible for paying the total cost of the environmental impact of packaging, will be delayed a year until October 2025.

Officials confirmed yesterday that Extended Producer Responsibility will be delayed until 2025. Retailers praised the decision, saying that the levy would push up shopping bills.

Extended Producer Responsibility, originally due to come into force in April 2024, would make companies responsible for the costs of collection, sorting, recycling and disposal of packaging waste.

However, an update published on gov.uk yesterday said: “There’s been a decision to defer extended producer responsibility for packaging fees for one year.”

What is Extended Producer Responsibility?

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is new UK legislation that will replace current packaging waste regulations with a phased implementation from 2023. The plan is for full implementation by 2027.

It is an environmental policy that requires producers to pay the full costs of dealing with the waste they produce from when it is placed onto the market, through to the end of its life.

The idea behind Extended Producer Responsibility is to reduce the environmental impact of packaging. Under EPR proposals, packaging producers will be responsible for the entire cost of recycling packaging, including the cost of collection, treatment, and recycling.

Research has shown that implementing Extended Producer Responsibility increased the percentage of paper and packaging being recycled to over 75 per cent in seven jurisdictions, including Belgium, Spain and the Netherlands.

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Does Extended Producer Responsibility affect my business?

Most microbusinesses and SMEs will not be affected by Extended Producer Responsibility for packaging.

However, if your business’s annual turnover is between £1m and £2m and you are responsible for handling and supplying 25+ tonnes of empty packaging or packaged items throughout the calendar year, then yes, you will be affected.

You can check if you need to report packaging data using this Government checker here.

What counts as packaging activity?

You may need to act if you do any of the following:

  • supply packaged goods to the UK market under your own brand
  • place goods into packaging that’s unbranded when it’s supplied
  • import products in packaging
  • own an online marketplace
  • hire or loan out reusable packaging
  • supply empty packaging

How does your business boost sales with sustainable packaging?Here, we discuss the benefits of moving to sustainable packaging, and outline some practical ways for you to embrace the green revolution.

What do I need to do if my small business qualifies for Extended Producer Responsibility?

  • Make sure you record data about all the empty packaging and packaging items you handle and supply through the UK market as of 1 January 2023
  • Register for the EPR for packaging online service. Registration will open in 2024 for small businesses.
  • Submit your data about the empty packaging and packaged products you handled or supplied through the UK market during 2023

What should data submission include?

If affected, your business should start preparing now to capture your packaging data. The data submission must include the weight of:

  • Individual materials in the packaging you handle and supply
  • Materials used in your primary, secondary, and transit packaging
  • Packaging that is likely to become household or non-household waste
  • Packaging that could end up in street bins

Data for 2023 will need to be submitted between 1 January 2024 and 1 April 2024. Any missed payments will result in a penalty charge.

What you may need to do next

  • Collect and report data on the packaging you supply or import
  • Pay a waste management fee
  • Pay scheme administrator costs
  • Pay a charge to the environmental regulator
  • Get packaging waste recycling notes (PRNs) or packaging waste export recycling notes (PERNs) to meet your recycling obligations
  • Report information about which nation in the UK packaging is supplied in and which nation in the UK packaging is discarded in – this is called ‘nation data’

What could happen next?

The European Commission has proposed extending EPR for textiles from 2025 to address the industry’s exceptionally low recycling rates.

Further reading

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Tim Adler

Tim Adler is group editor of Small Business, Growth Business and Information Age. He is a former commissioning editor at the Daily Telegraph, who has written for the Financial Times, The Times and the...