Following a hastily deleted announcement yesterday about the delay to Defra’s EPR scheme, a press release this morning has confirmed the government’s decision to defer implementation to October 2025.
Defra says that after extensive engagement with industry, and in light of the pressure facing consumers and businesses in the current economic context, the new rules to ensure packaging producers pay for the cost of recycling their packaging will be deferred a year from October 2024 to 2025.
The government will use the additional year to continue discussing the extended producer responsibility (EPR) scheme’s design with industry and reduce the implementation costs wherever possible. In anticipation of EPR, producers have already started to use less packaging and adopt easier-to-recycle packaging formats. Defra expects 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. It will provide industry, local authorities and waste management companies with more time to prepare to ensure the scheme’s success, helping ensure it is best designed to deliver on long-term recycling goals while supporting households with the immediate challenge of high prices caused by inflation.
Responding to the news, Andy McLean, Technical Director at the BMA, said “BMA members will be disappointed with this news after the effort, cost and time invested in reporting. Concerns should be raised as our members have reported under two systems – the old and new. Will this be carried over to next year, causing more cost and confusion?”
In the government press release, 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.”
Consistent recycling collections for households will come in after the implementation of the EPR scheme. More details on this will be set out in due course.