The UK government has announced that new rules to ensure packaging producers pay for the cost of recycling their products will be deferred by a year to October 2025.
The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) said that the additional year would be used to “reduce the costs of implementation” of the extended producer responsibility (EPR) scheme and “drive down inflation” for customers.
This will give industry, local authorities and waste management companies more time to prepare to ensure the success of the scheme, according to Defra, with the decision to delay taken jointly with the devolved administrations.
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.
“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.”
Defra said that producers have already started to use less packaging and adopt easier-to recycle packaging in preparation of the EPR, and expects this to continue.
As it aims to eliminate avoidable waste by 2050, the government has also introduced a tax on plastic packaging which does not meet a minimum threshold of at least 30% recycled content, and will introduce bans on some single-use plastic items.
More consistent recycling collections for households are expected after the implementation of the EPR scheme.
Simon Roberts, CEO of Sainsbury’s, said that the delay will provide the supermarket chain with the necessary time to "get EPR right first time".
However, the Recycling Association’s chief executive Paul Sanderson, described the decision as "unbelievable", saying that “we’ve been waiting too long for EPR and consistency of collections to be introduced”.
He continued: “Both of these policies have the potential to transform the UK recycling landscape, and provide essential funds to develop UK infrastructure.
“We’ve had too many years of drift already since these policies were first announced in 2018, and now it seems we won’t get any further until at least 2025. That is too long, especially as much of the detail should have long been worked out.
“This delay must ensure that we are fully ready to implement EPR and consistency of collections soon after with all of the policy detail worked out and agreed.”
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