What do the new EPR regulations mean for your business?

Baled card to be recycled

What are the new Extended Producer Responsibility UK regulations?

There have been stories appearing across the press regarding the forthcoming EPR legislation which has caused many businesses to question exactly what this means for them.

The reality is that, as of the time of writing, the legislation has yet to go through parliament meaning that currently it is not on the statute books. Although the Government has telegraphed that it is coming and that there will be a requirement for ‘producers’ to report from the 1st of January 2023, there is currently no way of registering and no clarity of what needs to be reported.

One of the key changes is that the cost will fall largely on the producers of branded packaging. The requirement of other businesses who turnover £2m+ will be to report on a biannual basis the amount of packaging that they have used. Everyone who is obligated under the current system will be obligated under the new legislation, as will a raft of businesses that currently escape it.

An additional effect of the legislation is that the current PRN system will either be phased out, or will run alongside the new regulations in some form – again this has not been clarified by the Government as yet.

To ensure you are futureproofed against this, you need to ensure accurate records of materials coming on to and leaving your premises. Then watch this space! We will update you all just as soon as we can.

A summary of the proposed new regulations so far…

The UK Government are committed to protecting the environment and have pledged to achieve Net-Zero carbon emissions by 2050.

As a key element of this plan, Extended Producer Responsibility linked to packaging use and recycling is being brought into play. This means that as of January this year, the way UK organisations responsible for packaging must carry out their recycling responsibilities has changed.

All companies affected by the new Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for packaging, will need to report their packaging data. This means you will need to start collecting the correct packaging data from 1 January 2023.

What will it mean for your organisation?

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) will replace(?) the current Packaging Waste Regulations with a phased implementation  as of January 2023. The purpose of the policy is to ensure producers pay the full costs of dealing with the waste they produce from cradle to grave.

In practical terms, under the new EPR regulations, packaging producers will be(?) responsible for the entire cost of recycling the packaging that’s put into the marketplace, including the cost of collection, treatment, and recycling of the materials.

For the purposes of EPR, Packaging is defined as:

Any material that is used to cover or protect goods that are sold to consumers. It makes handling and delivering goods easier and safer. It includes anything that’s designed to be filled at the point of sale, such as a coffee cup.

Packaging also makes goods look appealing and it may display a company’s logo or brand. ‘Goods’ could include raw materials or processed items.

Implementation of the new EPR regulations will affect all UK organisations that handle or supply packaging.

Categories of packaging producers and handlers are explained in more detail under the current Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulation 2007, the table below outlines the main categories:

Table 1

Relevant function performed in Years 1 and 2Subject matter of supply in Year 1Class of supply in Year 1Class of producer in Year 2
ManufacturerPackaging materialsA B or CManufacturer
Convertor, subject to paragraph 1(2)Packaging or packaging materialsA B or CConvertor
Packer/fillerPackaging or packaging materialsA B or CPacker/filler
ImporterPackaging or packaging materialsA B or CImporter
Manufacturer, Convertor, Packer/filler, or ImporterTransit packagingB or FSecondary provider
Service ProviderPackagingGService Provider

More detailed explanations of the categories can be found here.

Obligations under EPR will depend on the size of your organisation and whether it is classed as small or large using the criteria set outbelow:

A small organisation:

  • Where annual turnover is between £1m and £2m, and which is responsible for handling and supplying more than 25 tonnes of empty packaging or packaged items throughout the UK market in a calendar year.

A large organisation:

  • Where annual turnover is more than £2 million, and which is responsible for the handling and supply of more than 50 tonnes of packaging materials.

What do I need to do to comply with Extended Producer Responsibility?

As mentioned, this all depends on the size of your organisation and the volumes of packaging that you handle on an annual basis. For organisations classed as small, read about your requirements here.

As for large organisations, the capture and reporting of accurate data is vital in order to ensure you are compliant. Requirements are as follows:

  • You need to record data about the empty packaging and packaged products you handle and supply in the UK from 1st January 2023.
  • Register for the EPR for packaging online service from April 2023
  • Pay a fee to the environmental regulator.
  • Buy packaging waste recycling notes (PRNs) or packaging waste export recycling notes (PERNS) to meet recycling obligations.
  • Submit the data about empty packaging and packaged goods you handled or supplied through the UK market.

Large organisations will need to submit data every 6 months. Additionally, any organisations selling goods in the UK including distributors, online marketplaces, retailers, and sellers may need to submit Nation Data.

Nation Data is information that’s required about which country in the UK your packaging has been sold, hired, or loaned in. This means that these types of companies will need to assess the packaging they handle in greater detail than they do currently. The 2023 data for this will need to be submitted by December 2024.

What packaging activities come under the Extended Producer Responsibility regulation?

The current list of the packaging activities covered by this new regulation includes:

  • Packaging own-brand products to sell to UK consumers.
  • Using a third party to package and sell own brand goods to UK consumers.
  • ‘Transit packaging’ that is used to protect goods during transport so that they can be sold to UK consumers.
  • Importing own-brand and third-party packaged products into the UK to sell to consumers (unless doing so on behalf of a third party – such as a supermarket).
  • Allowing third parties based outside of the UK to sell packaged products or empty packaging through an online marketplace that you own.
  • Hiring or loaning out reusable packaging to UK third parties.
  • Making and selling empty packaging to third party organisations that do not need to take action under the regulations.

According to Gov.UK, your organisation 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 likely to become household or non-household waste.

•           Packaging likely to end up in street bins.

The scheme administrator will then use your 2023 data to calculate your waste management fees for the financial year 2024 to 2025. The regulator will use your 2023 data to calculate the amount of PRNS and PERNS you must buy to cover your recycling operations for the 2024 calendar year. Then from 2025, the scheme administrator will adjust your waste management fees depending on the cost of recycling the materials used in the packaging you handle and supply.

For full information and guidance about the Extended Producer Responsibility regulation, visit Gov.UK.