No new EPR system for 2023, Defra says

Extended producer responsibility (EPR) reforms will not be phased in from 2023, Defra has said, but the department stopped short of giving a date when it would be rolled out.

Defra will set targets for 2023, with the current PRN system to continue

This means the current Packaging Recovery Note (PRN) system will continue throughout next year and the government will bring forward a Statutory Instrument to set recycling targets for the 2023 compliance period.

Under the original plans from Defra – the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – the new EPR system was to be phased in from 2023 with a scheme administrator overseeing the reformed system.

While 2023 was always due to be a transitional year, it was hoped the scheme administrator would be set up and begin distributing some payments from producers to local authorities.

However, Defra said that many stakeholders warned that the proposals for the initial phased roll-out gave insufficient time for businesses to prepare for new data reporting requirements and for the scheme administrator to mobilise.

In February, three producer trade associations threw their name into the ring in a bid to become scheme administrator (see letsrecycle.com story).


While the 2023 introductory date always seemed likely to be pushed back, this marks the first time there has been more information about it.

Defra also said it “recognises the difficulties businesses have faced and continue to face due to the pandemic”, which could be seen as a positive for those against the business waste reforms element of EPR reforms.

On the data front, Defra added that the risk of the scheme administrator not being operational in time would have widespread implications for producers and local authorities, and poor data would risk undermining the scheme.


The industry has been awaiting the government’s EPR responses for a number of months now, with the public line still being that it will be out in “early 2022”.

The responses are now going through the final approval at Defra, which says it is “working hard to get it finalised and to publish it as soon as we can”.

The delay will not come as a surprise to many in the industry, with many saying the 2023 timetable was unrealistic given the amount of work still needed to set up and work under a new system which has still not been finalised.

One packaging expert explained the decision does not come as a surprise, and they feel the proposed changes “are so massive that it’s important they are implemented properly”.

They added: “We must not lose sight of the fact that this adds huge costs to consumers, which could add £200 on to bills every year. Can the government really afford to introduce a system that hit consumers this way?”

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