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GPT Waste Management discusses the responsibility that product manufacturers have when it comes to extended producer responsibility.


A brief introduction into extended producer responsibility (EPR) in the field of waste management, tells us that it is a strategy designed to promote the integration of environmental costs associated with goods throughout their life cycles into the market price of the products.

EPR is an environmental protection strategy which aims to reach a decrease in the total environmental impact of a product, the strategy intends to reach this aim by making the manufacturer of the product responsible for the entire life-cycle of a product and especially for the take-back, recycling and final disposal.

Financial incentives are used to encourage manufacturers to design environmentally friendly products by holding producers responsible for the costs of managing their products at end of life. This policy approach attempts to relieve local governments of the costs of managing certain priority products by requiring manufacturers internalize the cost of recycling within the product price.

EPR is based upon the principle that because producers (usually brand owners) have the greatest control over product design and marketing and these same companies have the greatest ability and responsibility to reduce toxicity and waste.

A review of the UK’s Producer Responsibility Regulations

The UK Producer Responsibility Regulations provide a legislative framework for meeting EU obligations, this is to recover and recycle a proportion of the waste batteries, packaging, electrical and electronic equipment and vehicles in the UK market.

These Regulations deliver important environmental savings helping the UK to become more resource efficient and to reduce its’ carbon impact. However, government believes that the way in which these Regulations work could be improved upon in order to optimise their effectiveness and reduce the administrative burdens they place on business.

The Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste)

The reason for this topic of conversation is because the producer responsibility obligations in relation to packaging waste, has recently been amended.

The UK has a statutory producer responsibility regime for packaging, this places a legal obligation on businesses which make or use packaging to ensure that a proportion of the packaging they use is recovered

These Regulations amend the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations 2007. If you would like to review the full regulations, click here.

From a waste point of view, if plastic packaging becomes more “sustainable” in terms of recycling and bio-based production, you can be sure some new legal burdens will need to be put upon the producers (and users) of packaging.

Complex discussions are happening surrounding EPR and although we have our own opinions, recent news seems to indicate there has been more serious talk from packaging producers about increasing accountability for the fate of their packaging.

However, some companies are struggling to come up with self-regulated plans that would allow them to reduce packaging material waste or increase recycling.

To help governments make more informed decisions about EPR implementation and assess the social costs of such policy, an OECD report proposes a framework for analysing the costs and benefits of such programmes: Analytical Framework for Evaluating the Costs and Benefits of Extended Producer Responsibility Programmes.

If a responsibility for a product’s end-of-life environmental impacts on producers, EPR policies are also expected to push them the redesign their products to be more environmentally friendly.

These changes will not only reduce waste management costs, but will also reduce materials usage and enhance a products reusability and recyclability.

A recent OECD report , “EPR Policies and Product Design: Economic Theory and Selected Case Studies” discusses the potential ‘Design for Environment’ impact of EPR policies and provides practical examples of the extent to which some EPR programmes are contributing to ‘Design for the Environment’.

On the 21st of March, as part of the Budget, new packaging targets for 2013-17 were also announced. The Government adopted the preferred option based on responses received from a recent consultation, click here for more information.

The proposals in the above mentioned consultation are expected to be of greatest interest to:

  • Packaging ‘producers’, as defined in the Packaging Regulations
  • Packaging compliance schemes
  • Re-processors and exporters of waste packaging
  • Waste management companies and local authorities involved in the collection of packaging
  • Research institutions, groups or individuals with a particular interest in packaging waste.

The targets, which apply to businesses within the scope of the Producer Responsibility Regulations, will deliver environmental and economic benefit, as well as ensuring that the UK continues to meet EU Directive targets over the next five years.

Tony Mottram of GPT Waste said:

“Over 5,500 businesses in England & Wales are obligated under the Producer Responsibility Obligations and therefore at risk of significant penalty fines for not being compliant”

He went on to summarise by saying

 “if you have an annual turnover of £2 million or above; handle 50 tonnes or more of packaging in a calendar year, you need to understand your obligations, we can help you.”

For more information email or call 0844 854 5000

References and useful resources:

Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations

To speak to someone about your waste management requirements, call 0844 854 5000 or email

We also offer a full Waste Review Service free of charge. Find out how you can help your business deal more effectively with your waste: Call 0844 854 5000 or email here.

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