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New packaging waste rules – are you ready?

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United Kingdom

Jessica Gardner, partner in our Regulatory team, shares facts and FAQs

The UK's extended producer responsibility (EPR) scheme will formally launch in January 2024. Under it, organisations will be responsible for the full costs of managing the packaging they handle and supply on the UK market. It is a policy approach designed to incentivise businesses to take more responsibility for the materials and products they place on the market, by placing the financial cost of managing those products on the businesses (or 'producers') themselves.   
 
The new regime will overhaul the way UK organisations responsible for packaging must carry out their recycling responsibilities, with non-compliance enforceable by way of financial penalties and other sanctions.
 
Businesses need to self-assess whether they fall within scope of the new EPR rules, and those that do are required to start collecting and recording relevant packaging data now (before the new scheme takes effect). Read our FAQs below to find out if you are affected.
 
Who falls within the scope of the new EPR rules?
 
The new regulations will apply to all UK organisations that handle and supply packaging to consumers and businesses.  You will need to report packaging data if all the following apply:
 
  • You are an individual business, subsidiary or group (but not a charity)
  • You have an annual turnover of £1 million or more (based on your most recent annual accounts)
  • You are responsible for over 25 tonnes of packaging in a calendar year (January to December)
  • You carry out any 'packaging activities'.
 
The list of 'packaging activities' is broad and includes:
 
  • Supplying packaged goods to the UK under your own brand
  • Placing goods into packaging, where that packaging is unbranded when it is supplied
  • Using ‘transit packaging’ to protect goods during transport so they can be sold to UK consumers
  • Importing products in packaging and selling on the UK market
  • Owning an online marketplace that allows non-UK organisations to sell their goods online
  • Hiring or loaning out reusable packaging
  • Supplying empty packaging to certain businesses
 
What do you need to do to comply with the new EPR rules?
 
If you are in scope (see above), then under the new regulations you may need to:
 
  • Collect and report data on the packaging you handle and supply in the UK
  • Pay a waste management fee
  • Buy packaging waste recycling notes (PRNs) or packaging waste export recycling notes (PERNs) to meet your recycling obligations
  • Report information about where your packaging has been sold, hired, loaned, gifted or discarded (i.e. nation data')  
The extent of your obligations hinges on whether you are a ‘small’ or ‘large’ organisation. This is based on your annual turnover and how much packaging you handle and supply each year.
 
  Annual turnover Weight of packaging (per calendar year)
Small organisation £1m to £2m Responsible for handling and supplying 25 - 50 tonnes of empty packaging or packaged goods
Large organisation £2m or more Responsible for handling and supplying > 50 tonnes of empty packaging or packaged goods
 
The Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulations 2023, once in force, will set out further detail on how the new rules will apply to both small and large organisations.
 
Do you need to do anything right now?
 
You need to start preparing now to capture and record data about the empty packaging and packaged goods you handle and supply on the UK market.
 
Depending on whether you are a small or a large organisation, you will need to report your packaging data from 1 July 2023 (for large organisations) and from 1 January 2024 (for small organisations). 
 
If you would like to find out more about how you can prepare for the EPR scheme and how to capture your data, read our blog or get in touch with our Regulatory Partner, Jessica Gardner.
 

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Public and Regulatory