Julie James, Minister for Climate Change
The Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) scheme for packaging will see businesses that place packaged goods on to the market become responsible for the full cost of recycling and waste management for packaging materials when they have come to the end of their intended life.
The introduction of EPR is a Programme for Government commitment which will reduce the amount of unnecessary packaging, increase the amount of packaging which is recycled, reduce packaging litter and encourage the re-use of packaging. As such, it is important in both tackling the climate and nature emergency and building a stronger, greener economy as we progress towards a net zero Wales.
The EPR scheme for packaging is being developed on a UK-wide basis in partnership with the other nations of the UK, with the design of the reforms scheme having been published jointly in March 2022. The reforms will bring significant changes to the way packaging is managed across the UK, with an estimated transfer of costs of around £1.2 billion from the private sector to the public sector for the provision of efficient and effective packaging recycling collection and waste management services.
The UK Governments (in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales) remain committed to packaging reforms that work for business, the environment, and the economy as a whole. In developing the scheme, the four administrations have been working closely with industry, local authorities and the waste management sector to inform the approach.
In doing so, we have heard and listened to feedback from businesses and local authorities requesting additional time to both engage with and prepare for the reforms. A joint decision has therefore been made by all four nations of the UK to defer the obligations under EPR for packaging payments from October 2024 to October 2025.
The revised timeline for packaging EPR will enable us to work with business, local authorities and wider stakeholders to further refine the scheme to ensure it will effectively deliver our shared environmental goals and help to place the sector on a clear pathway to decarbonisation.
This 12-month deferral to EPR payments will provide:
- Industry with additional time to prepare for the upcoming requirements from October 2025, which may include reviewing and improving current packaging, and being more involved in the design of EPR services.
- Local Authorities and Waste Management sector with additional time to make provisions for new obligations and adjust current services ready for the introduction of the reforms.
- An opportunity to involve different parts and representatives of the value chain and wider stakeholders to co-design and shape EPR policy and initiatives, including but not limited to; the underpinning legislation and the Scheme Administrator roles and functions.
- De-risk the scheme’s delivery as the current delivery timelines are jeopardising its feasibility and long-term value for money.
To make best use of this 12-month deferral, we will soon be:
- Launching a consultation on the Statutory Instrument that underpins EPR to test its clarity and operational feasibility with all parts of the collection and packaging supply chain.
- Reviewing the design and functions of the EPR Scheme Administrator with stakeholders, ensuring key sector-led input to the establishment process.
- Engaging stakeholders on how these reforms can accelerate the move to a genuinely circular economy for packaging, as a key action in our Circular Economy Strategy, Beyond Recycling.
As Governments working in partnership to develop the UK wide scheme, we are committed to packaging reforms that work for business, society and our local authorities, whilst realising the economic benefits and essential environmental outcomes of the transition to a Circular Economy.
This statement is being issued during recess in order to keep members informed. Should members wish me to make a further statement or to answer questions on this when the Senedd returns I would be happy to do so.