In response to ongoing economic pressures facing consumers and businesses, the UK government announced a one-year deferment of new rules that require packaging producers to cover the costs of recycling their packaging. Originally scheduled to take effect in October 2024, these rules will now be implemented in 2025.
The additional year will be used for continued discussions with industry stakeholders to refine the scheme's design and reduce implementation costs. Producers have already begun adopting eco-friendly packaging formats and minimizing packaging use in anticipation of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) regulations. This proactive approach aims to prevent passing recycling costs onto households.
The decision to postpone producer payments was made in collaboration with all parties and the government, ensuring consistency across the UK. This delay offers industry, local authorities, and waste management companies more time to prepare for the successful implementation of EPR, aligning it with long-term recycling objectives while addressing immediate challenges posed by inflation-driven high prices.
Environment Minister Rebecca Pow emphasizes the government's commitment to eliminating avoidable waste by 2050 while addressing inflation and promoting recycling. Sainsbury's CEO, Simon Roberts, welcomes the decision, as it provides time for industry and government collaboration to ensure EPR's successful introduction while mitigating food inflation pressures.
Paul Vanston, Chief Executive of the Industry Council for Packaging and the Environment (INCPEN), recognizes the importance of efficient systems, cost-effectiveness, and high recycling performance as essential factors for government and stakeholders to achieve their environmental goals.
The government remains steadfast in its commitment to eliminating avoidable waste by 2050 and aims to recycle 65% of municipal waste by 2035. The EPR scheme will play a central role in achieving these targets, complementing other measures such as the tax on non-recycled plastic packaging and bans on single-use plastic items.
Additionally, the successful reduction in single-use plastic carrier bag usage by over 97% in major supermarkets highlights the effectiveness of prior environmental initiatives. Consistent recycling collections for households will be introduced following the EPR scheme's implementation, with further details to be provided in due course.