At 09:00 on 25 July, the department released an update explaining that a “decision has been made” to delay payments from producers to local authorities for the collection of packaging waste by one year to October 2025.
This was reported first by letsrecycle.com. The notice was later removed, but then re-uploaded.
Defra issued a press release yesterday evening (25 July), with quotes from the environment minister Rebecca Pow, the chief executive of INCPEN Paul Vanston and the chief executive of Sainsbury’s Simon Roberts, providing more information.
The notice also said the deposit return scheme will “proceed to current timescales” of October 2025, while the consistency response will be provided in due course.
Government will use the additional year to continue to discuss the scheme’s design
Explaining the EPR delay, the department said: “Following extensive engagement with industry, and in light of the pressure facing consumers and businesses in the current economic context, new rules to ensure packaging producers pay for the cost of recycling their packaging will be deferred a year from October 2024 to 2025.
“Government will use the additional year to continue to discuss the scheme’s design with industry and reduce the costs of implementation wherever possible. In anticipation of EPR, producers have already started to use less packaging and adopt easier to recycle packaging formats, and we expect this process to continue – ensuring that costs are not then passed onto households later on.”
Defra added that the decision to defer producer payments has been taken jointly with the devolved administrations “and will provide industry, local authorities and waste management companies with more time to prepare to ensure the success of the scheme”.
This, according to Defra, will help make sure EPR is designed to deliver on long term recycling goals while “supporting households with the immediate challenge of high prices caused by inflation”.
The environment minister Rebecca Pow said: “We’re determined to transform the way we collect, recycle and reuse our waste materials so we eliminate all avoidable waste by 2050 in a way that works for households and consumers. That’s better for our environment.
“We are also listening to industry and ensuring our work to tackle inflation and to drive up recycling go hand in hand, to make sure our reforms will be a success.”
While producers have been vocal in their opposition to the plans as they stand, Simon Roberts, the chief executive of Sainsbury’s, said the company remains committed to the introduction of EPR, and welcomes today’s announcement.
He said on the delay: “This will provide the necessary time to work across our industry and with Government in order to get EPR right first time. This decision is also an important step in minimising further pressure on food inflation and we will continue to focus on delivering the best value to customers in the coming months.”
Paul Vanston, the chief executive of the Industry Council for Packaging and the Environment (INCPEN), which counts some of the UK’s largest producers as members, was also quoted in the update.
He said: “UK and devolved ministers are making the right set of decisions at this time to drive forward the shaping of the collections and packaging reforms.
“Ensuring overall systems efficiency, cost-effectiveness and high recycling performance are essentials for the governments and stakeholders to achieve together.”