What is Extended Producer Responsibility? Answering your FAQs

by | Feb 16, 2023

In a recent survey, 60% of respondents admitted they don’t know what Extended Producer Responsibility is. The regulations have been in place for six weeks, so it’s time to make sure you’re collecting all the data you need for the environmental regulator. Here we answer your FAQs 

As part of DEFRA’s EPR legislation, beauty businesses must take steps to record data about all the empty packaging and packaged goods they handle and supply throughout the UK.

Speaking to Cosmetics Business, Victoria Brownlie, Chief Policy Officer said: ‘Businesses will essentially have to pay a tax for waste … The rules have been brought in to get people to start building waste management into their business models. They are designed to get companies to look at the recycling potential of the packaging they are creating and to go through the correct routes to ensure it is recycled properly.’ 

Even though the rules came in on January 1st, the majority of our community isn’t aware of what the packaging waste regulations are…

So, what is Extended Producer Responsibility?

Producer responsibility for packaging has operated since 1997, however, in the Spring of last year DEFRA released a consultation on Extended Producer Responsibility. This reads: ‘EPR will move the full cost of dealing with packaging waste from households away from local taxpayers and councils to the packaging producers… giving producers responsibility for the costs of their packaging throughout its life cycle. This will encourage producers to reduce their use of packaging and use packaging which is easier to recycle.’

Put simply, the regulation means that businesses’ packaging practices will be audited bi-annually (or yearly, depending on size), and those using less sustainable practices will be penalised. 

Do I need to collect data for Extended Producer Responsibility?

The new legislation is far-reaching, this is to ensure that waste is designed out of UK systems as quickly as possible. You should have started collecting packaging data from January 1st 2023 if you: 

  • supply filled or empty packaging directly to consumers in the UK
  • supply empty packaging to UK organisations that are not legally obligated under the regulations
  • hire or loan out reusable packaging
  • own an online marketplace where other organisations sell their empty packaging and packaged goods to UK consumers
  • import packaging to the UK that you discard without selling or exporting it

How often do I need to submit EPR data? 

There are different rules for SMEs and larger businesses, so it is useful to understand where your company sits. A small business is defined as: ‘having an annual turnover of between £1 million and £2 million and handling and supplying more than 25 tonnes of empty packaging or packaged goods through the UK market’.

On the other hand, a large organisation has ‘an annual turnover of £2 million or more’ and is ‘responsible for handling and supplying more than 50 tonnes of empty packaging or packaged goods in the UK’.

Now you know where your business sits, take a look at what is expected from you below: 

Small Businesses have to:

  • take steps to record data about all the empty packaging and packaged goods you handle and supply through the UK market from 1 January 2023
  • create an account and register your organisation from January 2024
  • pay an annual fee to the environmental regulator from 2024
  • report data about empty packaging and packaged goods you handled or supplied through the UK market throughout 2023

Large organisations must: 

  • take steps to record data about the empty packaging and packaged goods you handle and supply in the UK from 1 January 2023
  • create an account and register your organisation from July 2023
  • pay a fee to the environmental regulator
  • buy PRNs or PERNs to meet your recycling obligations
  • report data about empty packaging and packaged goods you handled or supplied through the UK market

I own a large organisation, what is a PRN/PERN? 

These are tradeable certificates used to record and identify packaging waste which is then recycled to make something new. Big organisations must buy these as proof that they have achieved their recycling targets and therefore achieved compliance with the regulations. They were originally introduced in 1997, as part of Producer Responsibility Obligations.  

How do I collect data for Extended Producer Responsibility? 

Businesses will have to collect information on packaging material, weight, type and activity. Data is also expected to be submitted on when packaging has been sold, hired, loaned, gifted or discarded. 

You need to start collecting data on your activity now to meet the first EPR deadline. All qualifying companies need to report the weight of the packaging in kilograms and break it down into these materials: 

  • aluminium
  • fibre-based composite
  • glass
  • paper or cardboard
  • plastic
  • steel
  • wood
  • ‘other’

Businesses will also have to report the type of waste the packaging is likely to become when it’s discarded. 

To find out more about Extended Producer Responsibility, click here.

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