The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) has urged the government to provide the drinks industry with more information on the new Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) scheme as businesses lack “clear guidance”.
According to a new report by the National Audit Office (NAO) called The government’s resources and waste reforms for England, government officials have failed to clarify how the EPR scheme will be delivered.
Initially proposed in a 2018 government report, the Extended Producer Responsibility scheme will require all companies that produce packaging or sell packaged products to cover the full costs of processing and disposing of household packaging waste in an effort to reduce packaging waste and increase recycling rates.
In 2019, the government then set economy-wide net-zero targets, making its waste reduction plans “even more critical”.
However, since the initial proposal, the NAO found that the government has not yet laid out “effective delivery plans” detailing how it will achieve its waste management goals. Coupled with this, the government did not achieve its 2007 target to recycle 50% of waste from households by 2020.
Gareth Davies, the head of the NAO, said: “Reducing waste is critical to reducing emissions and achieving some of government’s wider environmental goals, but Defra [government Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs] does not have effective long term plans for how it will achieve its ambitions for reducing waste.”
Responding to NAO’s report, Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the BBPA, said that while UK brewers are committed to supporting the government’s Net Zero targets, the beer industry needs clearer guidance on how to prepare for the EPR.
“This report lays bare the fact that businesses have not been given the clarity or time required to prepare for Extended Producer Responsibility reforms,” she said.
“At a time of immense pressure on businesses due to inflation, and alongside ongoing uncertainty around other packaging reforms, the potential for EPR has loomed over our sector with seemingly little understanding of the time or resource needed for brewers to implement changes that would make these reforms effective.”
McClarkin also said it is “essential” that the introduction of the scheme is delayed until a “detailed impact assessment of the suggested reforms” is carried out.
The launch of the scheme has already been delayed until 2024.