BHETA to lobby on extended producer responsibility

With packaging costs potentially set to rise tenfold for suppliers if the Government’s proposed Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) (packaging sustainability) legislation proceeds as currently drafted, BHETA is not only advising members on the essential steps that every company needs to undertake as soon as possible, but it is also launching its latest lobbying campaign on the subject.

Will Jones, chief operating officer at BHETA, said: “Unless we intervene to demonstrate the inequity of the present legislative draft, there will be a huge shift in financial responsibility for the treatment of waste packaging throughout its lifecycle, with suppliers picking up 100% of the bill for branded products.

“Currently, the costs for kerbside recycling / disposal of packaging from branded products is split roughly as follows: 10% by producers through PRNs; o 10% by retailers; 80% by the taxpayer through Councils.  Under EPR in 2023, for payment in 2024, this will change to the whole cost of collection and disposal met by producers through modified PRNs.  This will be the most significant change to Packaging Regulations, indeed the whole PRN system, for a generation.”

EPR is currently set to be charged in the UK from 2024 based on levels of 2023 packaging.

Jones added: “Not only is it vital that suppliers begin to prepare now for both the rules and the new reporting that will enable those rules, but it is also important that we do what we can collectively to explore improvements to the EPR draft.  Of course, no-one would deny the importance of packaging changes in the interests of sustainability and the planet – it is the proposed methodology that is at issue.

“It assumes that producers can make all the packaging decisions, while the reality is that the relative size of many producers and retailers means that the retailers frequently specify the packaging requirement, and the producer has a choice of meeting the specification or losing the business.  Some joint responsibility would lead to far more progressive thinking in terms of packaging overall.

“Secondly it assumes that only producers benefit from packaging, whereas the benefit is shared throughout the supply chain, from manufacturers to retailers to the consumer, through safe and secure transportation of goods, minimized waste due to breakage, clear communication of features and benefits, instructions on how to use products safely and efficiently, and so on.

“Most worryingly, the reality is that producers will be unable to absorb these additional costs on their own and as such they will be passed up the supply chain to retailers and ultimately to the consumer, adding yet more pressure to the already challenging situation on inflation.”

Initially, BHETA will be asking the Government to unpick the proposed legislation as it stands in favour of something more equitable, more practical, and more motivational for everyone involved.   It is also providing an advisory pack to members to facilitate what is hoped to be a collective industry campaign for a more workable solution.  BHETA is also asking for a delay of at least a year until the details of requirements and charges have been outlined in full, and a phased introduction to allow for changes to be introduced.

Jones concluded: “BHETA’s campaign is not about denying the need for change. A more equitable spread of the inevitable cost and an achievable timescale is what’s needed.  That way, all suppliers and all retailers will be able to take genuinely positive steps towards the shared goal, rather than being bounced towards a pricing place which consumers will have difficulty accepting.”

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