Ecoveritas wants government to provide more EPR transparency to businesses

‘We need certainty and stability’: Ecoveritas urges government to stay the course with EPR

Environmental compliance data specialist, Ecoveritas, has called on the UK government to stay the course regarding the protracted Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) policy reforms.

The call to action comes after The Telegraph reported last month that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has been discussing potentially delaying scheme due to the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.

Ecoveritas said there is a distinct lack of confidence the plan for EPR, which is set to come into action in April 2024 and mean retailers and manufacturers will take on financial responsibility from the taxpayer for recycling consumer goods packaging, can move out of the current stall it appears to be in. Since January 2023, organisations including retailers, have been legally obliged to collect data on their packaging to comply with EPR and they will need to pay fees to the scheme regulator if the full legislation comes into play next year.

But information on consistency of collections has still not been published, EPR fees still not available, a scheme administrator is yet to be appointed, and there are rising doubts over timescales.

Ecoveritas’ chief strategy officer, Andrew McCaffery, said: “EPR should be a shining beacon.

“Instead, we seem to be caught in a downward spiral of negativity, and you get that sense of déjà vu regarding proposed positive recycling and waste policy changes stalling.”

He added: “More recently, EPR’s rollout has been plagued by lobbying from producer associations calling for an urgent reconsideration. Admittedly, there is very little new information about the future, which is hugely frustrating for those who have worked hard.”

McCaffery continued: “If the policy is good for the planet and the environment, we need the willpower to implement it, even when it is not universally popular. We must move away from the status quo and this inherent predisposition towards pessimism.”

He also suggested when contrasting the industry’s position with the urgency of the climate crisis, the delays and uncertainty about introducing the legislation represent “damaging actions”.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) said in April retailers are committed to reducing waste and packaging and are in support of schemes that deliver on these aims, but the trade body argued EPR reforms in their current guise are “fundamentally flawed”.

According to the BRC, without significant investment in recycling infrastructure in Britain, UK households could be footing the bill for EPR without any meaningful improvements to UK recycling rates. Businesses want a new EPR scheme that significantly increases the use of recycled materials in new packaging to help them meet ambitious sustainability goals, but there is currently little confidence in the government’s proposals.

Helen Dickinson, CEO of the BRC, called on the government to go “back to the drawing board”.

“We have the opportunity to get it right on the future of a waste management scheme that will determine UK recycling rates for a generation,” she explained.

Dickinson added: “Government’s haste to introduce a new system is undermining the system itself. It’s time to work with retailers and manufacturers to ensure the public get a world-class recycling system that collects and processes as much recyclable material as possible.”

McCaffery commented: “If EPR is to be delayed, let’s be honest and transparent about it with businesses who have put time, energy and resources into initiatives, all of which has a cost.

“Right now, we need something we have sorely missed from the very start: certainty and stability.”

[Image credit: Green Retail World]

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