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How policy changes may affect environmental compliance in 2021

An overview of the legislative changes expected in 2021, considering the Environment Bill delays, Packaging Legislation, Plastic Tax and WEEE in-store takeback.

A number of changes to the producer responsibility obligations are expected to be introduced or announced in the year ahead.

With opportunities for stakeholders to feedback and respond to draft proposals, it is important to prepare for how the changes could impact your business. Here we run through the policy updates for 2021.

Environment Bill faces further delays

Following an announcement this week, the Environment Bill will now be carried over to the “next parliamentary session”, sometime after April of this year. The 2019-2021 Environment Bill was reintroduced into parliament in December 2019, this was a re-introduction of the Environment Bill from the previous parliamentary session. Following delays from the covid-19 pandemic, the general election and Brexit, the consultations on these measures are now being reviewed by government before formal consultations at the end of March, with an expected delay of six months across implementation.


Packaging Legislation: Consultations expected this spring

The UK government’s Resources and Waste Strategy will continue to move forward, with changes to legislation expected by 2024.

In January 2018, Theresa May set out the government’s 25-year Environment Plan which is supported by the UK Resources and Waste Strategy.  This sets out how the ambitions of the Environment Plan will be realised and has been followed up with a raft of proposals aimed at achieving higher recycling rates, increased resource efficiency and the move towards a more circular economy.

The changes will cover:

1. Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for packaging

2. Consistency in recycling collections

3. Deposit return scheme (DRS) for drinks packaging in England

It is expected that the second round of consultations on these proposals will take place in spring 2021.

It will be essential for packaging producers to respond to this final round of consultations for Extended Producer Responsibility to have the opportunity to influence the future of packaging compliance. From a change to the de minimis, modulated fees and a single point of compliance, the proposed changes will affect the cost of compliance for obligated businesses, potentially by ten times as much as you currently pay.

We urge all packaging producers to read the consultation when released and respond to any questions that will affect their business in order to have the best opportunity for their views and interests to be heard and considered. This is important even where a business is represented by an industry group that will be responding on your behalf.

We will be providing support to our members who are unsure of how to respond, providing guidance once the consultation has been released.

If you wish to know more about EPR and how this could affect packaging compliance join our webinar on Wednesday 3rd February at 11:00am, with Head of Packaging, Martin Trigg-Knight and Policy and Engagement Lead, Charlotte Briggs.

Plastic Packaging Tax: Awaiting further guidance on legislation

The Plastic Packaging Tax will come into effect in April 2022 and will apply to plastic packaging manufactured in, or imported into, the UK which contains less than 30% recycled plastic. The HMRC published responses to the second round of consultations last year, accompanied by draft legislation.

Further guidance for areas of the draft legislation is expected but no timeline has been given for this. If you are a business that currently places 10 tonnes or more plastic packaging onto the UK market, you will be required to pay the £200 per tonne levy on any of the packaging that contains less than 30% recycled content.

We would recommend that those businesses who may be affected by the tax conduct a full plastic packaging audit to understand where the tax will be applied, on what products, and how much this will cost. If you would like help in understanding how to undertake a packaging audit, please get in touch with our team.

Consultation responses:

Draft legislation:

Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) legislation

Removal of Distribution Takeback Scheme (DTS) for Retailers

As of the 1st January 2021, large electronic retailers are now obligated to accept waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) in-store at no cost to the consumer. The changes to recycling obligations now require retailers who have a turnover for sales of electronic equipment in excess of £100,000 to provide a takeback service for WEEE into their stores.

If you would like to know more about how this change may affect your business, or further guidance in the best way to ensure a takeback scheme is implemented effectively, please get in touch with our WEEE specialists.

The current Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment regulations will be reviewed throughout 2021 with a consultation expected on this later in the year. Find out more about how we are supporting producers here.

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