EPR will move the full cost of dealing with packaging waste from households away from taxpayers and councils to packaging producers, giving them responsibility for the costs of their packaging throughout its lifecycle.
The delayed EPR reforms come into force on 1 January 2023, when businesses will need to start collecting data on packaging waste. In signs the department is stepping up the roll-out of EPR, Defra also published a statutory instrument in parliament on the same day, setting out that businesses must legally record data for the EPR reforms from March 2023 at the latest or January if they have it (see letsrecycle.com story).
Defra’s webinar included information for businesses on what data they need to collect, what they need to do, when they need to do it by and how.
Defra’s Kayti Boorman told the webinar: “If you are affected by the new extended producer responsibility for packaging, we ask you start to collect the correct packaging data from 1 January 2023.
“Collection of your packaging data, though, won’t become mandatory until March 2023. You will need to start reporting this data between July and October 2023.”
She said the regulations would apply to all UK organisations that handle and supply packaging to consumers and to businesses, that import products from outside the UK, and to online marketplaces.
Ms Boorman added: “You must take action to apply if all of the following apply: you’re an individual business, subsidiary or group, but not a charity; you’re responsible for over 25 tonnes of packaging in a calendar year; and you carry out any packaging activities.”
During the webinar, Defra was asked how and when it would provide “transparency” on actual costs, particularly given that many businesses have already completed their financial forecasts for 2023.
Jack Ambler, team leader for packaging EPR at Defra, told the webinar: “There will be a ‘ready reckoner’ tool available in early 2023 which will help predict data and finances.
“We also work closely with [the Food and Drink Federation] who we believe have been in consultation themselves with the top four financial firms for advice.
“We would recommend contact with FDF direct, but we will announce updates as we receive them.”
‘Complex and time-consuming’
News of the responsibilities provoked a negative reaction and some confusion from several webinar attendees.
One said: “No-one creating these reporting obligations can actually have worked in industry and understand how complex and time-consuming this will be.”
Another attendee added: “Given the retraining of staff that is required for these changes, I do not feel there has been enough time to communicate these changes to businesses, especially in the run up to the busiest period of the year.”
Separate to the webinar, in light of the publication of the statutory instrument, packaging data specialist Ecoveritas called on Defra to “overcome its endless procrastination” and “move the new EPR system forward”.
In a statement, Andrew McCaffery, global EPR director for Ecoveritas, welcomed the news draft EPR legislation had been laid in parliament, but said there was an “urgent need” for a precise timetable.
“It is nigh impossible for businesses to plan given the chaotic and unpredictable goings on in government,” Mr McCaffery said.
“Still, many good things are happening, and with stringent regulation – through the entire product lifecycle from concept through production, distribution and disposal – real change can and will occur.”