Packaging waste reforms - stemming the tide of waste

  • Market Insight 26 April 2023 26 April 2023
  • UK & Europe

  • Casualty claims

Reporting requirements for Extended Producer Responsibility have come into force.

From 28th February 2023 obligated packaging producers in England, Northern Ireland and Scotland must collect information on the amount and type of packaging they have supplied during 2023. Wales will follow. First reports must be submitted from 1st October 2023.

The reporting requirement is part of plans to make it easier for consumers to recycle packaging waste. Extended Producer Responsibility for Packaging will make firms that supply household packaging responsible for the costs of dealing with packaging waste. The costs of collecting and managing household packaging waste is currently down to local authorities. In an effort to encourage producers to reduce the amount of packaging placed on the market, they will now be required to pay for the collection and disposal costs of their household packaging when it becomes waste. It is estimated that the savings per year across all local authorities will be £1.2 billion.

Rebecca Pow, the Environment Minister, has said the reforms "will encourage businesses to increase their use of recyclable materials" and support the government's work "to protect the environment from the scourge of waste".

12 million tonnes of packaging was placed on the UK market in 2020. This includes packaging which contains hard to recycle plastics. It is hoped if producers start using more recyclable materials the amount of unrecyclable waste will reduce.

Plastic waste

These reforms are part of the government's wider efforts to eliminate avoidable plastic waste. From October 2023 single-use plastic plates, trays, bowls, cutlery, balloon sticks, and certain types of polystyrene cups and food containers will be banned. It is estimated that in England alone 2.7 billion items of single-use cutlery (most of which are plastic) are used each year.

This follows the ban on micro beads in rinse-off personal care products as well as restrictions on the supply of single-use plastic straws, drink stirrers and cotton buds.

The charge for single-use plastic carrier bags came into force in October 2015. Since this introduction carrier bags sales have reduced by 97% in supermarkets. In 2014, before the charge was implemented, over 7.6 billion single-use carrier bags were given by major supermarkets to customers. This equates to around 140 bags per person.

Effect on businesses

Before final decisions are made about Extended Producer Responsibility for Packaging, Defra wants information from businesses that will be affected. Data gained will provide the basis for establishing packaging waste management fees that producers will pay from 2024, when the scheme comes into force.

Defra states it is engaging with businesses and local authorities through:

  • Industry-wide sprint events
  • Deep dive sessions
  • Fortnightly forums

The government has provided guidance on "How to collect your packaging data for extended producer responsibility". 

This can be accessed here


Stay up to date with Clyde & Co

Sign up to receive email updates straight to your inbox!