M&S, Unilever and PepsiCo meet with ministers over recycling scheme concerns

M&S, Unilever and PepsiCo are among the British retailers and food producers that have raised concerns over a new £1.7bn a year recycling scheme.

Having met with environment secretary Thérèse Coffey yesterday (23 March), the companies warned that the extended producer responsibility for packaging (EPR) scheme will see consumers receiving higher costs, without the intended environmental benefit.

Trade groups including the British Retail Consortium, the Food and Drink Federation and Industry Council for Packaging and the Environment, were also present at the meeting which saw consumer groups’ executives expressing that the EPR scheme is poorly designed.

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According to reporting by The Financial Times, the EPR which is due to roll out in 2024, will apply to companies supplying packaged foods to the UK under their own brand, importing items in packaging, or selling non-UK plastic products online.

These companies will also need to collect and publish data on the packaging supplied and pay certain costs, such as a waste management fee, before collecting notes from reprocessers to confirm that any waste has been recycled.

The cost of handling the waste is expected to be around £1.7bn a year, according to the environment department.

As a result, the FDF has warned that this could add up to £60 a year on household bills if the costs are passed on by producers.

In a letter supported by Aldi and M&S, and seen by the Financial Times, the FDF and BRC asked PM Rishi Sunak to reconsider the scheme, which they said would “significantly increase the costs of packaging, which, in the current economic climate, will increase prices for consumers, without seeing the desired increase in recycling.”

M&S said the EPR is “poorly thought through,” and will “add cost to businesses and customers and make no tangible difference.”



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