Packaging waste is financially and environmentally costly to dispose of.
Not all of it gets recycled, and only a small proportion of the costs of dealing with it are borne by the businesses that circulate the packaging.
The Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) regime is designed to address these issues.
It aims to reduce the amount of packaging waste that ends up in landfills by persuading producers to use less packaging and favour options that are easier to recycle or reuse.
With this in mind, your KitKat now playfully challenges you to 'try to open this wrapper in one piece' on the basis that 'larger pieces of packaging recycle more easily' – gone are the days of running a fingernail down the foil!
Regulatory Tools Under the EPR Regime
The EPR regime put a range of tools at the disposal of the regulators, the most striking being the ability, in due course, to require producers of consumer-facing packaging waste to bear the full net cost of collecting, sorting, and treating such waste.
More specifically, The Packaging Waste (Data Reporting) (England) Regulations 2023 (and their Welsh equivalents) require producers that meet certain criteria to fulfil data collection and reporting requirements to provide visibility of the amount and type of packaging that they are placing on the market.
This data will make it possible for the regulators to calculate the fees that those producers will have to pay to fulfil their EPR payment obligations once that regime comes into effect.
The Environment Agency's Extension for Report Submission Deadlines
The Environment Agency's latest regulatory position statement (RPS) 288, published earlier this month, effectively extends the deadline for submission of the first and second of such reports by indicating that the agency will 'not normally' take enforcement action in respect of the reporting obligation until the following dates:
- first reports on or before 31 May 2024 (instead of 1 October 2023); and
- second reports on or before 31 May 2024 (instead of 1 April 2024).
The deadlines are important since, for businesses that are subject to the data collection and reporting obligations, there will be penalty charges if the dates are missed.
This extension follows the government's decision to defer the coming into effect of the payment regime under the packaging EPR until October 2025 rather than October 2024 as originally planned.
It is worth noting that although the dates on which the EPR regime will start to be enforced have been pushed back, the data itself still needs to extend back to 1 March 2023, and producers taking advantage of the extended deadlines must keep records for two years to show that you have complied with this RPS and make these records available to the Environment Agency on request.
Consultation and Upcoming Regulations on Producer Responsibility Obligations
Defra currently has an open consultation (closing 9 October 2023) on the draft Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging and Packaging Waste) Regulations 2024, which will, in due course, implement the packing EPR regime in the UK (superseding preceding regulations) – Consultation on the draft Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging and Packaging Waste) Regulations 2024 - Defra - Citizen Space.
We will provide further guidance as the position develops.
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