Crucial regulations have been approved by the House of Lords as part of the UK’s new producer responsibility system for packaging.
The Packaging Waste (Data Reporting) (England) Regulations 2023 are being rushed through parliament to ensure that obligated producer businesses record appropriate data during 2023. This data will be used to calculate producers’ recycling obligations and the extended producer responsibility fees that they will be required to pay to local authorities from 2024 onwards.
Lord Benyon, a Defra minister, spoke to the Lords committee reviewing the regulations of the new system, stating that it would help “squeezed council budgets” by moving the full cost of dealing with packaging waste away from households, local taxpayers, and councils and onto its producer.
Producers will pay fees to cover the cost of collecting and treating household packaging waste handled by local authorities.
Benyon emphasised that local authorities will benefit from an estimated £1.2 billion of funding each year for managing packaging waste, providing a new income stream to cover the cost of packaging recycling and easing the pressure on squeezed council budgets. Despite the potential benefits, consumers could face up to £48 in extra costs (at 2019 prices) as a result of the new system, the impact statement for the regulations said.
Lord Benyon stated that it is up to producers how much of their additional costs they pass on to consumers. Defra analysis has indicated that if costs are passed to consumers, this could increase the CPI consumer price inflation index by between 0.04% and 0.09%, which is the equivalent of a household cost of between £24 to £48 per year.
The new producer responsibility system will bring greater obligations for producers along with a range of changes as well as extra costs. The new system is designed to encourage businesses to think carefully about how much packaging they use and to design and use packaging that is easily recyclable. Payments under the new system from 2024 to local authorities will take account of equity and regional considerations such as rurality, level of deprivation and performance expectations, according to the Defra Impact Assessment.