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5 October 2023

Extended Producer Responsibility Scheme Postponed Amid Economic Pressures

Following extensive engagement with industry, and in light of the pressure facing consumers and businesses in the current economic context, new rules to ensure packaging producers pay for the cost of recycling their packaging will be deferred a year from October 2024 to 2025.

Government will use the additional year to continue to discuss the scheme’s design with industry and reduce the costs of implementation wherever possible. In anticipation of EPR, producers have already started to use less packaging and adopt easier to recycle packaging formats, and we expect this process to continue – ensuring that costs are not then passed onto households later on.

This decision to defer producer payments has been taken jointly with the devolved administrations and will provide industry, local authorities and waste management companies with more time to prepare to ensure the success of the scheme, helping make sure it is best designed to deliver on long term recycling goals while supporting households with the immediate challenge of high prices caused by inflation.

Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said:

We’re determined to transform the way we collect, recycle and reuse our waste materials so we eliminate all avoidable waste by 2050 in a way that works for households and consumers. That’s better for our environment.

We are also listening to industry and ensuring our work to tackle inflation and to drive up recycling go hand in hand, to make sure our reforms will be a success.

Simon Roberts, CEO of Sainsbury’s, said:

Whilst we remain absolutely committed to a circular economy and support the introduction of EPR, we welcome today’s announcement.

This will provide the necessary time to work across our industry and with Government in order to get EPR right first time. This decision is also an important step in minimising further pressure on food inflation and we will continue to focus on delivering the best value to customers in the coming months.

Paul Vanston, Chief Executive of the Industry Council for Packaging and the Environment (INCPEN), said:

UK and devolved Ministers are making the right set of decisions at this time to drive forward the shaping of the collections and packaging reforms.

Ensuring overall systems efficiency, cost-effectiveness and high recycling performance are essentials for the governments and stakeholders to achieve together.

The government remains committed to delivering on its commitments to eliminating avoidable waste by 2050 and recycle 65% of municipal waste by 2035.

The extended producer responsibility scheme will play a central part in delivering that mission and will build on other measures, including the tax on plastic packaging which does not meet a minimum threshold of at least 30% recycled content, which came into force last April, and the upcoming bans on countless single-use plastic items, including cutlery and plates.

Meanwhile, our single-use plastic carrier charge has successfully cut usage by more than 97% in the main supermarkets.

Consistent recycling collections for households will come in after the implementation of the extended producer responsibility scheme. More details on this will be set out in due course.

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