Experts react to EPR delay
The implementation of the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) scheme, extending producers’ responsibility for packaging recycling to the post-consumer stage, has been postponed until October 2025, a decision that was anticipated in the industry. However, producers are still required to report packaging data for 2023 despite the delay.
Industry experts see the delay as an opportunity to use the time constructively. Under EPR, every piece of packaging must be labeled to indicate its recyclability, prompting businesses to assess and update labeling. Those who prepare in advance can benefit from lower costs and a positive brand response.
However, concerns arise about the loss of confidence in the EPR framework, as the public continues to bear the cost of packaging recycling until the scheme is implemented. This could potentially impact investments in recycling infrastructure. The hope is that the delay will allow authorities to clarify aspects of the EPR scheme and rebuild confidence. Additionally, it could pave the way for improvements in waste collection consistency by local authorities, crucial for effective EPR implementation.
Experts also point out issues with managing lighter wastes and suggest stricter regulations, limiting packaging to only a few types of plastic and promoting paper-based products. This move aims to reduce plastic waste and improve the practicality of recycling those remaining plastic waste types.
Unanswered questions remain regarding how packaging waste recovery note (PRN) payments will work in the interim, and whether companies will report under the old packaging waste rules. There are also concerns that with an election scheduled for the next year, further delays could occur.
Despite uncertainties, experts stress the importance of achieving a comprehensive UK-wide waste and recycling reform within a reasonable timeframe to avoid setbacks and political inaction. Failure to do so would be seen as a case study of inefficiency and neglect in waste management.