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UK Resource Waste Strategy: First four major consultations published

UK Resource Waste Strategy: First four major consultations published

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by Bob Watling, April 2019
Bob Watling is a Senior Consultant in thinkstep's Recycling Compliance business unit and supports thinkstep’s substance declarations web database system, BOMcheck.
In January, EC4P reported that the UK government had published their Resource Waste Strategy at the end of 2018.
 
The first four major consultations promised in the Resource Waste Strategy were published on 18 February 2019 and include a consultation on reforming the UK packaging producer responsibility system.  This consultation will remain active until 13 May 2019.

Reforming the UK Packaging Waste Regulation

Views are being sought on reforms of existing UK waste packaging legislation, which is now more than 20 years old.  The UK government is proud that existing waste packaging legislation has improved the rate of packaging recycling, whilst minimising the cost burden on businesses.  However, many stakeholders have stressed that it needs reform – not least because of recent public awareness campaigns surrounding the amount of plastic waste in the world’s oceans.
 
The reforms will, in particular, aim to reduce the amount of packaging placed on the UK market which is difficult to recycle, and for packaging that is placed on the market, further improve recycling rates.

Reform options and business impacts

There are seven proposals for reform being consulted on, as follows:
 
  1. The definition of full net cost recovery and approaches to recovering full net costs from producers
  2. Incentives to encourage producers to design and use packaging that can be recycled
  3. The businesses that would be obligated under a packaging extended producer responsibility system
  4. Producer funding is used to pay local authorities for the collection and management of household packaging waste and to support the collection for recycling of household-like packaging arising in the commercial waste
  5. Mandatory labelling on all packaging to indicate if it is recyclable or not
  6. New packaging waste recycling targets for 2025 and 2030, and interim targets for 2021 and 2022
  7. Alternative models for the organisation and governance of a future packaging extended producer responsibility system
  8. Measures to strengthen compliance monitoring and enforcement including for packaging waste that is exported for recycling
 
The first of these proposals will perhaps impact businesses most profoundly - certainly from a financial perspective. This proposal suggests that businesses who use packaging and who are best placed to influence its design meet the “full net costs of managing packaging waste” – very much in-line with the true definition of EPR (Extended Producer Responsibility).  The current PRN (Packaging Recovery Note) system in the UK, which packaging producers pay into, was not designed to fund the total costs of collecting, sorting, treating and disposing of waste packaging – the remaining costs are shared by local authorities, other public authorities and businesses who consume packaged goods.  Under this proposal, packaging producers will bear full financial responsibility for waste packaging collection, sorting, treatment and disposal.
 
However, all of the proposals clearly result in some level of impact on businesses (including financial and administrative) who produce and sell packaging and packaged products in the UK.
 
Based on responses to the consultation on reforming the UK packaging producer responsibility system, in 2020, the government will consult on their preferred approach to designing a new and effective EPR system for packaging and implementing specific regulatory measures.

I sell packaging goods in the UK. What do I need to do?

Please contact us if you would like to find out how EC4P can help your company manage your registration, collection, recycling and reporting obligations under the UK packaging regulations.  We can also help your company to stay abreast of changes to producer requirements in the UK, plus meet further EU-wide and global packaging regulation obligations.