The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) announced yesterday (25 July 2023) that the government is deferring extended producer responsibility (EPR) for packaging fees for a year, until October 2025.  The decision was made following consultation with industry and in light of the pressure facing consumers and businesses in the current economic climate. 

Defra’s EPR guidance page has been updated to reflect this change.

The updated guidance confirms that “[t]here's been a decision to defer extended producer responsibility for packaging fees for one year. This update reflects that, and also explains that other timescales have not changed - producers still have to report packaging data for 2023.”

Under the EPR, packaging producers will be made responsible for the full cost of managing the packaging they place on the market. This cost transfer is intended to incentivise producers to question whether the packaging they use is necessary, could be reduced or not used at all. Producers’ fees will be varied (modulated), providing further incentive to support the achievement of scheme outcomes, such as increased recycling. It is the introduction of these fees that has been deferred until 2025.

The announcement comes after media reports over the last couple of months that the UK government was considering delaying the scheme. It also comes amidst rumours that the government is reconsidering green policies more generally in light of the rising costs impacting consumers and businesses.

Whilst some businesses and industries have welcomed the deferral, the delay and the continued lack of clarity around EPR is unsatisfactory and is affecting how business can invest and are investing in changes to products and processes.  The government has reassured industry and the public more widely that it will use the additional year to further develop the scheme to ensure it is best designed to deliver the long term recycling goals. In the meantime, it is important that businesses continue to comply with their existing packaging obligations. In particular, packaging producers must still collect and report their packaging data for 2023.

If your business is impacted by the packaging regulatory framework or you would like to explore what compliance obligations you may have, please contact me or the wider environment team.