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Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs Plaque (Defra)

Defra Shares Updates to the EPR for Packaging Regulations

On Wednesday 1st May, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) shared updates to the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for Packaging regulations through their Waste and Resources Newsletter.

These changes come as Defra notified stakeholders that the draft Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging and Packaging Waste) Regulations 2024 have now been sent to the European Union and the World Trade Organisation. This marks a significant step towards the implementation of packaging EPR legislation across the UK, as Defra looks to bring the legislation before the UK Parliament later this year, with the aim of it coming into force across the UK by 1st January 2025.

Key Changes to the Draft Packaging EPR Regulations

Expanded Criteria for Household Packaging Exemptions: The definition of household packaging has been broadened to allow exemptions for packaging sold through third parties under “business use only” criteria. Public institutions are now treated similarly to businesses for exemption purposes, aligning with data reporting regulations in each nation.

Read our guide on Household and Non-Household packaging definitions.

Simplified Reporting for Drinks Containers: Non-glass drinks containers must now be reported based on the predominant material by weight, streamlining reporting requirements and aligning with relevant data reporting regulations in each nation.

Deposit Return Scheme Delay Provisions: If a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) is not in operation by 1st January 2028, producers of in-scope DRS drinks containers will be subject to the EPR Local Authority Waste Management fee until a DRS is operational for this material.

Clarification of Brand Owner Obligations: The definition of brand owner has been clarified to ensure that members of corporate groups with parent companies incorporated outside the UK are accountable for branded packaging.

Unified Implementation Date for Labelling Requirements: All labelling obligations, including recyclability labelling, will come into force on 1st April 2027 providing businesses with ample time to adjust. Additionally, clearer provisions have been established for labelling packaging not collected for recycling from households.

Refinement of Disposal Costs and Fees: Terms, definitions, and formulas regarding disposal fees, costs, and administration fees have been refined for clarity. Liability to pay disposal and administration fees is now clearer, with provisions for impairment fees added to cover bad debt risks.

Modulation of Disposal Fees: The Scheme Administrator must consider legislation restricting the use of environmentally sustainable packaging when modulating household packaging waste disposal fees. Changes have been made regarding fee modulation for online marketplaces, with a new power for the Scheme Administrator to defer modulation under specific conditions.

Removal of Provisions on Binned Waste and Litter Payments: Provisions on binned waste and litter payments will now be delivered through a separate regulation, signalling a focused approach to addressing these specific issues.

Guidance on Assessment Methodology by Scheme Administrator: The Scheme Administrator is now mandated to provide comprehensive guidance on the methodology used and factors considered in assessing net efficient disposal costs and effectiveness. This initiative ensures transparency and consistency in assessment practices.

Enhanced Assessment of Disposal and Public Information Costs: The assessment of disposal and public information costs has been improved with several changes, including combining disposal cost assessment and payment notices into a single notice for simplicity. Clear guidance has been provided for assessing net efficient disposal costs and effectiveness, with provisions to incentivise waste hierarchy delivery. Local authorities can recover reasonable costs for providing additional information for assessment purposes, with recalculations procedures restructured for clarity and brevity.

Defra’s pragmatic approach to rolling out these regulations demonstrates their commitment to engaging and implementing feedback from industry stakeholders. To further contribute to the ongoing dialogue, stakeholders are encouraged to register for Defra’s upcoming webinar on Thursday 9 May 2024, from 11:00am – 12:30pm. This webinar will explore the changes made to the draft Regulations and outline the next steps following notification.

Register for the webinar here, where participants will have the opportunity to ask questions directly to Defra policy experts, ensuring a collaborative and informed approach to packaging regulation implementation. 

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