14 January 2019 by Will Date

Research to inform ‘full cost’ packaging system

Defra is commissioning experts to provide advice on how an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) system for packaging recycling could function.

The work will contribute to a consultation process on policies set out in the government’s Resources and Waste Strategy, which was published in December (see letsrecycle.com story).

Reform of the producer responsibility regime for packaging is likely to see producers cover a higher proportion of the cost of recycling of their products

Among the central aims of the Strategy – which has been spearheaded by the Environment Secretary Michael Gove – is a goal to see producers of packaging pay the ‘full cost’ of the recycling of the products they produce.

According to Defra, through the existing packaging recovery note (PRN)-based producer responsibility system, only around 10% of the overall cost of recycling and disposal of products is met by producers.

Further detail as to how a ‘full-cost’ producer responsibility system could function is expected to be published soon via a consultation on next steps for the strategy. The new system is due to be in place from 2023.


Ahead of the consultation, Defra has issued a call for experts to contribute to the work by ‘making recommendations for the logistics of two possible approaches to making producers more responsible for the packaging that they place on the market’. The Department has asked for potential partners to respond by 12 February.

Details on the Department’s e-tendering website suggest that the work will be used to inform the ‘preferred operating model’ for packaging EPR, the profile of producer fees and/or deposits that would be taken and other logistical aspects of the EPR scheme roll-out.

Among the areas where Defra is known to be looking for an EPR system involves ‘modulated’ fees, to encourage producers to make “more sustainable design, production and purchasing decisions” in line with the waste hierarchy.

“This could see producers pay a lower fee for products which are easy to reuse, repair or recycle and a penalty for those that are not,” Defra has said.


Proposals will also be considered as to how retailer take-back and reverse logistics could be incentivised, as well as proposals to consult on a deposit return scheme, also slated for introduction in 2023.

Speaking in November about steps to address waste from households and  businesses, Environment Secretary Michael Gove, said: “There are some companies that can do more, but we believe that the right thing to do is to have the right level of regulation and the right set of incentives to change that behaviour.”

Related Links
Extended Producer Responsibility Research


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