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The Implications of Brexit for Producer Responsibility in the UK

9th September 2016

As we are all aware, earlier in the summer the UK had a referendum on whether it should remain a member of the European Union (EU) and voted to leave with a marginal majority of 51.9%. The implications of this will be far reaching politically and economically and this post aims to give a little bit of guidance on how this will affect producer responsibility laws in the UK for packaging, WEEE & batteries.

The first thing to say is that the EU directives will remain in effect until the UK has left the EU. In order for the UK to leave it must enact Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union, notifying the EU of its withdrawal. The EU Treaties would cease to apply once a withdrawal is agreed or after two years if there is no agreement. It is likely that Article 50 may not be enacted until well into next year or maybe longer, so the packaging, WEEE & battery regulations will still be required for the next 3 to 4 years.

Looking beyond the UK leaving the EU, it is key to know the difference between EU Regulations and Directives. EU Regulations apply automatically in member states and when a member state leaves the EU, the Regulation ceases to apply in that member state. EU Directives must be implemented into national law by each member state to take effect.

Producer Responsibility laws for packaging, WEEE & batteries in the UK are based on EU Directives and so the rules governing them are written into law and will remain in place post Brexit. This will be the case unless a future government repeals the laws, but we do not see this happening in the foreseeable future. Extended Producer Responsibility is a concept seeing expansion throughout the world and as in the UK it currently relies on a market approach we do not see it being amongst the EU red tape the government is seeking to be rid of.