In our Green Matters series, we referred to the forthcoming introduction of more stringent producer responsibility requirements in the recently published Environmental Improvement Plan (EIP) through the Government's Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) scheme. The Government has now introduced new reporting regulations which apply to all UK organisations that import or supply packaging. In this article, we outline what this means for producers and suppliers of packaging, and what steps they will need to take to comply with the Environment Agency's new reporting requirements.
What is producer responsibility?
The Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations 2007 (S.I. 2007/871) include obligations on producers to recycle packaging waste in order to attain overall recycling and material-specific recycling targets. An overall recycling target, as well as material-specific recycling targets are set annually. The targets for 2023 on obligated producers in England and Wales in relation to glass, plastic, aluminium, steel, paper/board and wood are set out in government guidance.
What is extended producer responsibility?
On 17 March, the Government updated its guidance for producers to refer to the EPR scheme.The updated EPR guidance incorporates the introduction of new regulations, the Packaging Waste (Data Reporting) (England) Regulations 2023/219 (the "Packaging Data Regulations") which came into force on 28 February 2023.
The Packaging Data Regulations will apply to all UK organisations that import or supply packaging to collect data on the packaging they supply to others, and, in some cases, they will be obliged to report some of that information to the Environment Agency.
The Packaging Data Regulations require organisations to collect and report packaging data if all the following apply:
- They are an individual business, subsidiary or group (but not a charity);
- They have an annual turnover of £1 million or more (based on the most recent annual accounts);
- They were responsible for more than 25 tonnes of packaging in 2022; and
- They carry out any of the packaging activities.
Companies under the EPR scheme are classified as a "small" or "large" organisations based on their annual turnover and how much packaging they supply or import each year.
These Packaging Data Regulations impose obligations to:
- collect and report data on the packaging supplied and imported;
- pay a waste management fee;
- pay the scheme administrator costs;
- pay a charge to the environmental regulator; and
- get packaging waste recycling notes (PRNs) or packaging waste export recycling notes (PERNs) to meet your organisations' recycling obligations and report information about which nation in the UK packaging is supplied in and which nation in the UK packaging is discarded in - this is called "nation data".
If your organisation has all the required data from 1 January 2023, then annual reporting for this year should be from this date. If your organisation does not have all of this data, then reporting should include data from 1 March 2023. Details on the submission of when reporting data is due and the relevant fees payable will be published and updated within government guidance.
If you would like to speak to us about any sustainability issues presented in this article, including how your organisation can take steps to comply with the new EPR scheme and the Packaging Data Regulations, please contact either associate Ben Sasson or sustainability partner Ben Stansfield.
 The UK EIP - new goals for resources and waste | Gowling WLG
 Packaging waste: producer responsibilities - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
 Extended producer responsibility for packaging: who is affected and what to do - GOV.UK
 The Packaging Waste (Data Reporting) (England) Regulations 2023