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Give us a lead on EPR, say UK compliance experts

Environmental compliance specialist Ecoveritas has added its voice to concerns in the UK packaging and recycling industries that the Government is dragging its feet over Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR).

The company says there is a ‘swirling fog of unanswered questions’ with a policy on consistency of collections still not published, EPR fees not yet available, a scheme administrator yet to be appointed and rising doubts over timescales.

Ecoveritas notes ‘a distinct lack of confidence’ that the plan can move out of the ‘current stall it appears to be in’. Recently, The Telegraph newspaper reported that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has considered delaying the scheme due to cost. EPR is due to be rolled out in 2024, with producers currently gathering data on packaging ready for payments.

‘Shining beacon’

‘EPR should be a shining beacon,’ says Ecoveritas’ chief strategy officer Andrew McCaffery. ‘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.  

‘More recently, rollout has been plagued by lobbying from producer associations calling for an urgent reconsideration. We must move away from the status quo and this inherent predisposition towards pessimism. We’re completely misjudging the power of the consumer in all of this. When you contrast the industry’s position with the urgency of the climate crisis, these are damaging actions. 

McCaffery insists that if EPR is to be delayed, ministers should be honest with businesses who have put time and resources into the initiatives. On a brighter note, he adds, with organisations now required to collect data on their packaging to comply with EPR, it means officials can more accurately assess the amount of packaging placed onto the market this year before introducing new fees. 

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