New UK Packaging Regulations. How will it affect my company?

New UK Packaging Regulations. How will it affect my company?

Extended Producer Responsibility (ERP) is a principle that establishes that producers are responsible for the treatment of their products at the end of their useful life and for the waste they generate. In other words, producers must take the necessary measures to guarantee that their products are properly and responsibly recycled and/or disposed.

This principle, which has been adopted by many countries and has become a key element of waste management policies around the world, has led to a new waste management regulatory framework in the UK, which articulated a new ERP that entered into force on January 1, 2023.

The new regulations, apply to a wide range of products, including packaging, batteries, electrical and electronic equipment, vehicles and other consumer goods. Importantly, they have, as main objectives: i. To reduce the amount of waste generated and ii.To increase recycling rates.

Below there is a summary of their main novelties what new obligations they imply for all companies and organizations established in the United Kingdom

  • 1. New annual waste management fee
  • Companies have to pay a new waste management fee if:

  • a) Is a sole proprietorship, a subsidiary or a group (but not a charity)
  • b) It has achieved an annual turnover of £1 million or more according to its rmost recent annual accounts.
  • c) It is responsible for more than 25 tons of packaging in a calendar year (from January to December).
  • d) It carries out common packaging activities, including products’ supply under their own brand, unbranded packaging, use of packaging for protection during transport, import of packaged products, online sales, rental or loan of reusable packaging and supply of empty containers.

  • Although the British Government has not yet established the rates corresponding to the year 2024, it has announced that from 2025, the waste management rates will be subject to variations depending on the type of materials reported by the companies. If they use materials that are easier to recycle, the rate will be lower.

  • 2. Obligations of the new ERP depending on the size of the company
  • The regulations establish different obligations depending on company’s size. Thus, companies are divided into two categories, small and large, according to their annual turnover and the total weight of containers.

    Small businesses with an annual turnover of £1-2 million, or a turnover of more than £1 million and responsible for handling and supplying 25-50 tons of empties or packaged goods, are required to record details of their packaging and products, create an account, pay an annual fee and submit the details by a specified deadline.

    On the other hand, large companies with an annual turnover of at least £2m and responsible for handling and supplying more than 50 tons of empty packaging or packaged goods have the same obligations as smaller companies, plus the obligation to submit recycling notes, Packaging Waste Notes (PRN) or Packaging Waste Export Recycling Notes (PERN), every 6 months.

    Finally, parent companies and their subsidiaries can comply with EPR requirements in a variety of ways. The first option is for the parent company to comply with the EPR on behalf of all subsidiaries within the group. The second option is for each subsidiary to meet the requirements individually, as long as they meet the mandatory billing and tonnage requirements. Lastly, the parent company can register to comply with the EPR on behalf of some, but not all of its subsidiaries. If some subsidiaries do not qualify independently, but do when combined, the parent company must comply with the EPR on behalf of all of them combined.

  • 3. Sending national data
  • If an organization or business is required to comply with EPR in the UK, they will need to provide detailed information on sales, rentals, loans or disposals of packaging in each of the country's nations (England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland).

    This applies to those that supply packaging directly to consumers, rent reusable packaging, own an online marketplace for packaging and packaged goods, import packaging into the country for disposal, and more. Data for the full year of 2023 for each nation must be submitted by December 1, 2024.

What data must be sent annually?

Data must be structured into four blocks: packaging activity, packaging material and weight, type of packaging (primary, secondary or tertiary) and type of waste.

  • Packaging activity: products’ suppy to the UK market under own brand, products’ packaging in unbranded packaging, import of packaged products, e-marketplaces, rental or loan of reusable packaging or supply of empty packaging.
  • The weight of the packaging material must be indicated in kilograms and must be categorized according to the following materials: aluminum, fibers, glass, paper, plastic, steel, wood and others. In the case of composite packaging, the weight of the main material must be reported.
  • Packaging material classification: primary, secondary, shipping or transit depending on their function.
  • Finally, it must be indicated what type of waste the container is likely to become when discarded: domestic, non-domestic, street waste, beverage container, reusable or self-managed.

Large organizations must report on all these types of waste, while small organizations only report on beverage containers.