Defra have revealed that it is delaying its extended producer responsibility (EPR) scheme for at least a year, amid warnings from the grocery industry that it will drive up food prices by a significant margin.
According to The Grocer, the flagship environment policy plans to make the industry responsible for the cost of recycling, and would add more than £2 billion a year in extra costs.
The policies – which were first announced in 2018 by Michael Gove – were previously meant to be introduced in April 2024, however, Defra now claims that the plans will not be introduced until at least October 2025.
The environment department put up a statement on its website this week, that reads: “There’s been a decision to defer extended producer responsibility for packaging fees for one year. This update reflects that, and also explains that other timescales have not changed – producers still have to report packaging data for 2023.”
Last month, UK supermarket bosses and manufacturers were calling for the EPR scheme to either be shelved, or scrapped entirely.
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Recycling Association CEO, Paul Sanderson told The Grocer: “This further delay to the implementation of extended producer responsibility is unbelievable.
“We’ve been waiting too long for EPR and consistency of collections to be introduced, and we need to get on with it.
“Both of these policies have the potential to transform the UK recycling landscape, and provide essential funds to develop UK infrastructure.
Policy and external affairs director at the Chartered Body For Waste & Resource Professionals, Lee Marshall, commented:
“We believe this delay will have a significant impact, resulting in the public continuing to bear the cost of packaging recycling and disposal, less investment in recycling infrastructure due to a loss of confidence in the legislative framework, and a significant slowing of the UK’s green economy.
“Today, we reiterate our call for government to press ahead with executing the reforms on EPR and consistent collections.
“The sector is ready, willing and able to implement them and bring about the step-change in recycling rates that they are designed to deliver.