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I am disappointed by the government’s decision, announced at the end of last week, to further delay the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) scheme until 2025. While the scheme promises to hold packaging producers to account for recycling costs, this deferral is just another example of how this government has struggled to implement effective environmental policies in a timely manner.
At goplasticpallets.com, we have been champions for sustainability across the logistics sector for many years – recycling over 1250 tonnes of plastic ourselves. Whilst I believe the EPR scheme is a positive step towards achieving long-term recycling goals, I find this latest postponement incredibly frustrating.
Under the initiative, as it currently stands, we would have to declare data to the government every six months, however, as our “packaging” is classed as “tertiary” and “non-household”, we wouldn’t be subjected to fees.
Despite not facing charges, I am still irritated, as this delay only serves as a reminder of the inconsistencies and indecision surrounding the launch of the Plastic Packaging Tax in April 2022. Questions on what qualified as packaging and which products were subject to the tax were met with vague and case-by-case answers, leaving many businesses, including ours, grappling with uncertainty. Finally, we were informed that our plastic pallets and pallet boxes containing less than 30% recycled plastic were subjected to PPT, despite them being a sustainable alternative to wooden pallets and remaining in the supply chain for many years. In the first year (2022/23) we paid over £180,000 in PPT.
In addition, this delay to EPR comes just weeks after it was announced that a new deposit return scheme for single-use drinks containers in Scotland was postponed again. Originally meant to go live this summer, this new initiative was initially pushed back to March 2024, before later being delayed further until October 2025. Reporting on the news, the BBC said, “the latest stumbling block has been a row between Holyrood and Westminster which wants glass excluded so that a consistent UK-wide approach can be taken”. This highlights indecisiveness at government-level.
Moving forward, it is crucial for the government to use the additional 12-months before EPR is rolled-out wisely – and to learn from the mistakes of the PPT and deposit return scheme launch. They must work closely with industry stakeholders to ensure the EPR scheme is well-designed, effectively executed and clearly communicated.
In the meantime, we must not compromise on our commitment to building a circular economy and eliminating avoidable waste. Whilst supporting households during periods of high inflation is important, sustainability cannot take a backseat.