New waste rules proposed for packaging

The government has set out its latest plans for a new producer responsibility system for packaging, which will make companies producing and handling packaging fully liable for costs of disposal.

In a new consultation, the government sets out plans to make producers financially responsible for the entirety of their packaging waste by 2024.

Under the current system, businesses that have a turnover of more than £2 million and produce or handle 50 tonnes of packaging a year or more have to pay into a compliance scheme to help meet the costs of recycling waste. However, the system only recovers around 10 per cent of the costs of managing the UK’s packaging waste, with the rest funded by the taxpayer.

Incentives for sustainable materials

Plans to reform the system to put more responsibility on producer’s to foot the bill were first announced in 2018 in the government’s long-awaited Resources and Waste Strategy.

The government has now provided more detail, proposing to use a ‘modulated fees’ approach that will mean businesses pay a fee depending on the environmental impact of the material they use. The fees will cover the full costs of managing waste packaging, including costs associated with litter and communications.

The full scheme may be in place before the end of 2023, with producers potentially needing to start reporting their packaging in 2022.

It is not yet clear whether the small producer exemption for those placing less than 50 tonnes of packaging on the market will remain in place. Some experts expect the exemption to be reduced or removed, with the government previously stating that it intends the new system to cover “all” packaging placed on the market.

Other plans

The introduction of the new producer responsibility scheme will follow the Plastic Packaging Tax, which is set to be launched in April 2022. The tax will add a penalty of £200 per tonne on all packaging that has less than 30 per cent recycled content.

In the longer-term, the government plans to extend producer responsibility schemes to other sectors of the economy, potentially including textiles, clothing, food waste and bulky items such as mattresses and furniture.








Posted under General Interest, Material and Packaging Efficiency and Environmental Regulations and Legislation on 28 April 2021