The government said on Tuesday that new rules to ensure businesses and producers pay for the cost of recycling their packaging will be pushed back a year until October 2025 due to the economic pressures faced by consumers and firms.
“We’re determined to transform the way we collect, recycle and reuse our waste materials so we eliminate all avoidable waste by 2050 in a way that works for households and consumers,” Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said in a statement.
“We are also listening to industry and ensuring our work to tackle inflation and to drive up recycling go hand in hand, to make sure our reforms will be a success.”
The government said it will use the additional year to continue to discuss the extended producer responsibility (EPR) scheme’s design with industry and reduce the costs of implementation wherever possible. The decision, taken jointly with the devolved administrations, will also provide industry, local authorities and waste management companies with more time to prepare to ensure the success of the scheme, it added.
Businesses have welcomed the announcement.
“Whilst we remain absolutely committed to a circular economy and support the introduction of EPR, we welcome today’s announcement,” Simon Roberts, Sainsbury’s chief executive, said.
“This will provide the necessary time to work across our industry and with [the] government in order to get EPR right first time. This decision is also an important step in minimising further pressure on food inflation and we will continue to focus on delivering the best value to customers in the coming months.”
Paul Vanston, chief executive of the Industry Council for Packaging and the Environment (INCPEN), said: “UK and devolved Ministers are making the right set of decisions at this time to drive forward the shaping of the collections and packaging reforms.
“Ensuring overall systems efficiency, cost-effectiveness and high recycling performance are essentials for the governments and stakeholders to achieve together.”
The EPR scheme is expected to play a central part in delivering the government’s commitments of eliminating avoidable waste by 2050 and recycling 65 per cent of municipal waste by 2035.
This is in addition to the other measures, including the tax on plastic packaging which does not meet a minimum threshold of at least 30 per cent recycled content, which came into force last April, and the upcoming bans on countless single-use plastic items, including cutlery and plates.