Our disposable culture is wreaking havoc on the planet, and as several recent documentaries have shown, packaging waste has become a serious global environmental issue. While some packaging companies are already focusing on sustainability and their environmental impact, progress has not been fast enough across the industry. In response to this situation, the government has introduced new legislation to ensure that all packaging producers take responsibility for their impact on the planet and to drive changes in packaging design and end-of-life treatment.
New EPR Legislation
Under the new Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) rules, companies handling packaging in the UK have had to start collecting data about the packaging they handle and supply since January 1st of this year. This data is necessary to calculate the EPR fees that producers will pay to their local authorities through a Scheme Administrator once the scheme comes into effect in January 2024.
The aim of the new legislation is to ensure that packaging producers take responsibility for the environmental impact of the packaging they supply to companies. To achieve this, they will be required to pay for the cost of collecting and disposing of the packaging when it becomes waste. This is expected to be a financial incentive for companies to reduce the amount of packaging they supply and improve the recyclability of the packaging they produce.
Producers will bear the cost of packaging impact
According to the new regulations, producers with an annual turnover of £2 million and handling more than 50 tonnes of packaging each year will need to report data on the quantity and type of packaging they supply. The frequency of this reporting will increase from once a year to twice a year. Meanwhile, companies with an annual turnover of £1 million and handling more than 25 tonnes of packaging per year will need to collect the data but not report it.
Consumer Support for Greener Companies
Many consumers are already seeking out more responsible and environmentally conscious companies and choosing to buy products from these companies even though they are often more expensive than those of their competitors. Companies that first adopt sustainable and eco-friendly packaging, emphasize the importance of recycled materials, and showcase their commitment to being greener and more sustainable will find support from consumers. Eventually, all companies will face the same additional costs, so being the first to take action can be key to gaining consumer recognition for the change.
The Future is Sustainable
Packaging that can be reused, recycled, or composted is generally considered sustainable, although there isn’t a universally agreed-upon definition. Sustainable packaging includes elements such as printed boxes, paper envelopes, tissue paper, butcher paper, tape-sealed boxes, and compostable bags, all of which can be easily recycled or composted and therefore shouldn’t end up in landfills. Most companies should be able to transition to more sustainable alternatives relatively easily, but for perishable items or those currently requiring less eco-friendly packaging, the new legislation is expected to drive innovation in the sector and generate alternatives that are better for the planet in the near future.