Future proofing for EPR reform – are you ready?

In an extremely challenging year, it has been encouraging to see plenty of positive actions taken and progress made in 2020, on sustainability initiatives within the resources and waste sector. 

We have seen an unwavering commitment from numerous producers, for example, to continue their focus on a long-term implementation of actions to reduce their impact on the environment, including various packaging initiatives, such as the excellent progress made by the signatories of the UK Plastics Pact

Interestingly however, a recent Ecosurety survey[1] revealed that there are still relatively low levels of awareness of the implications of the planned future EPR changes that are heading our way – a key legislative driver to reduce the environmental impact of packaging that is set to dramatically impact producers’ businesses. Whilst 80% of respondents acknowledged that EPR would impact their business over the next 2-5 years, 60% felt that their business was unaware of the significant financial impacts of the planned reforms.

Therefore it is critical to continue to raise awareness with producers from multiple sectors in the run up to the launch of the consultations this year. This insight into the proposed reforms should be shaping strategic decision making around packaging now to help mitigate future cost increases.

EPR cost implications on packaging producers

We are looking forward to plenty of regulatory activity in 2021, including a second round of consultations on a whole raft of measures, including Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) which as well as shaping our future, will have significant operational and cost implications for all producers - large and small - and so it is paramount that producers of packaging proactively engage with these changes.      

Analysis Ecosurety has carried out on potential cost implications for producers is that they will face a ten-fold increase in average costs from 2023, a huge impact even for those businesses where producer responsibility has previously been a relatively 'unseen' operating cost.

For example, even a 'small' brand owner paying around £140,000 in compliance costs now would see that increase to £1.58m from 2023.          

Equally, for plastic packaging manufacturers and importers, the Plastic Packaging Tax will come into effect in April 2022 whereby £200 per tonne will be payable on all plastic packaging below the 30% recycled content threshold.

Another opportunity to ‘build back better’

Whilst there are certainly huge challenges in the immediate term due to COVID-19, we should not lose focus on the existential threat from climate change and linear resource use, and the opportunity to 'build back better' that business can play a lead role in driving. Equally, businesses must not allow themselves to be disrupted by legislation. 

To those ends, there is a golden opportunity this year for producers of packaging to help to shape the future of resources and waste in the UK for the vital decades to come, and prepare their business for EPR change from 2023. Despite the cogs of the UK legislative machine having understandably stalled in some areas in recent months, we have seen publication of some of the draft legislation at least, on the plastic packaging tax for example.

How we can help you prepare for future EPR

We are actively encouraging all producers to ensure that they are fully aware of the inevitable changes on the horizon and of the impact on their business, and to engage with the upcoming EPR consultations. To facilitate this we are undertaking a wide range of activity and offering extensive support to producers. In particular:

  • We engage with industry and policy makers to shape future reform
  • We provide regularly information and analysis of current and future legislations, as well as support in responding to consultations.
  • We provide cost modelling for EPR and Plastic Tax liabilities
  • We provide strategic insight and analysis into packaging data to support vital decisions making to mitigate future costs and engagement of supply chains.

If you would like any more information about how we can support your organisation directly, please contact your account manager directly if you are an Ecosurety member.

If you are not yet a member of Ecosurety, please contact our team by calling 0333 4330 370 or email us at info@ecosurety.com.


[1] Interviews of 54 packaging producers of various sizes and industries, conducted by Ecosurety in December 2020 and January 2021



Jon Brookes

Partnerships Director

As head of partnerships Jon is responsible for overseeing the sales, marketing and client services teams. Building strong relationships with industry and delivering business value to our members is paramount, with the ultimate goal of driving forward the positive impact Ecosurety has on increasing ethical and quality recycling. Fair to say he is a busy man!

Written by Jon Brookes Published 28/01/2021 Topics Packaging
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