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Biffa publishes guide to Extended Producer Responsibility to help businesses handling packaging

Sustainable waste management company Biffa has released a guide to Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) to help UK businesses meet new obligations for packaging waste.

EPR is one of a group of changes to deliver 2018’s 25 year environment plan, circular economy package and UN Sustainable Development Goals. It holds producers (rather than taxpayers) responsible for the collection, sorting, recycling, or disposal of any product packaging brought into the UK market and destined for households.

They must report their data from 2023, then EPR fees will be introduced from October 2025. Obligations differ depending on business size, but those with an annual turnover below £1 million and handling less than 25 tonnes of packaging are exempt.

The new rules aim to inspire a circular economy for packaging in the UK. In time, EPR could facilitate a wider transition towards a carbon based hierarchy for waste management in a domestic supply chain – an essential step in creating a more sustainable future as highlighted in Biffa’s Blueprint for Waste Net Zero.

‘A practical guide to Extended Producer Responsibility: what businesses need to do and why it is important’ from Biffa, outlines who is responsible, the timeline (with deadlines), and how to prepare. This is underpinned by insight from leading business waste experts at the company on how EPR will impact important areas like packaging design, recycling and the UK’s wider sustainability strategy.

The guide holistically assesses challenges like the prevalence of single use plastic and unrecyclable packaging, empowering the UK business community to be the change. The first step is education – Biffa fills a void with clear information to facilitate its short term compliance and long term strategic development that helps realise a circular future for packaging.

Roger Wright, waste strategy and packaging manager and Charlotte Scallon, head of sustainability and regulation, commented: ‘EPR is an important first step to understand what packaging is flowing through Britain and what happens to it. The modulated fees will be introduced to drive circular or more recyclable packaging choices which will lead to less single use and more recyclability; however recycling is not the whole story.

‘The carbon cost of materials is also important and should be factored into EPR as LCA reporting evolves to a more centralised and independent system.

‘To keep pace with progressive legislation, businesses must remain focused on implementing manageable changes to enable better packaging and material choices. Data analysis efforts and industry partnerships will be key to incorporating the carbon cost of materials into future packaging designs. All being well, a packaging sector which contributes to Britain’s circular economy and national sustainability goals emerges.’

CEO Michael Topham added, ‘EPR provides a legislative bedrock to inspire confidence and further investment in the development of British industries. This commitment from the UK government and industries to sustainable legislation will play a vital role in growing our infrastructure, boosting domestic supply chains and recycling capabilities to a level where we can realise a truly circular economy in the UK.

‘Biffa operates at the heart of the UK’s circular economy. We physically handle the packaging materials the UK no longer needs and can see first hand the impact of sustainability legislation. Britain needs to recycle more and to do this, more packaging needs to be recyclable. EPR will help us to achieve this.’


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