Government waste reforms must go further

28 July 2023

DEFRA has today published a consultation on the regulations underpinning its proposed Extended Producer Responsibility scheme (EPR) for packaging, this follows an announcement earlier this week to delay the scheme until October 2025.


EPR is the set of policies that, if implemented correctly, will ensure producers take responsibility for managing their packaging waste and that the UK establishes a world-leading recycling system for packaging. 

This scheme will charge producers for the plastic they put on the market. DEFRA estimates that this will cost producers £1.7 billion per year (on pre-2020 prices).

The Food and Drink Federation chief executive Karen Betts said:

"Getting Extended Producer Responsibility in place in the UK is critical if we’re to drive up recycling rates, generate sufficient supplies of recycled materials for new packaging, reduce litter and improve our environment. But the government’s plans are simply not advanced enough yet for the scheme to succeed, so we welcome the delay they announced this week. 

"What’s striking in today’s announcement is just how limited the government’s plans still are.  It’s clear there’s been no progress beyond requiring industry to pay for the new system.  There’s nothing on the reforms required of local authority waste collections and recycling, nor on supporting households to sort their waste differently and against much clearer guidance.  Without this, EPR won’t work – it will simply cost industry and consumers more to achieve the same poor outcomes we’re achieving now.

"If government wants to back out of a full EPR scheme and the wide-ranging reforms this will require, it needs to level with industry and the public on the environmental impact of doing so.  It cannot ask industry and consumers to pay more while household waste that is capable of being recycled continues to go to landfill, incineration or to be exported."