Globally, Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) laws are changing. Faced with increasing amounts of waste, many governments have reviewed available policy options and concluded that placing the responsibility for the post-consumer phase of certain goods on producers is required. EPR is a policy approach where producers are given a significant responsibility – both financial and physical – for the treatment or disposal of post-consumer products. Assigning such responsibility in principle provides incentives to prevent waste at the source, promote product design for the environment and support the achievement of public recycling and materials management goals.
The good news is that many brands are now on board with EPR policies and are working together to solve the packaging waste and pollution crisis. Just recently, more than 100 multinational businesses backed the Ellen MacArthur Foundation EPR statement to eliminate packaging that’s unnecessary, innovate packaging so that it’s recyclable, reusable or compostable, and circulate packaging in the economy to ensure it remains out of the environment. Companies that endorsed the policy include Coca-Cola, Unilever, Ferrero, Tetra Pak, Nestlé and more.
Cutting through the confusion
Even though there is a wide support for EPR policies across the globe, many packaging brands worldwide are facing big data challenges when it comes to understanding their obligations for a particular geographic region. While some countries request none, or limited, data and financial contributions relating to packaging EPR, others often require detailed data submissions relating to packaging placed on the market. This means if you don’t have the required data, or it is not detailed enough, there could be large cost implications at stake.
For example, new EPR laws in the US are divided by state. At least 25 states have EPR policies in place, but until recently these have often focused on the disposal of used mattresses, paint tubs and electronics. Only in July 2021 did the state of Maine implement the first EPR law for consumer packaging, with a further bill in Oregon on the cusp of being drawn into law. As reported by the New York Times, Maine now requires producers to cover 100% of its municipalities’ recycling costs, while in Oregon producers will only need cover 28% of the costs, with municipalities covering the rest.
In Europe, EPR policies are just as complex as the US as each country has subtle differences that can be easily missed by brands operating globally. In the UK, companies that exceed a £2 million turnover and handle more than 50 tonnes of packaging annually may be legally obligated under these laws. In Sweden, companies are obligated if their turnover exceeds 0.5 million SEK and, if selling direct to consumers, can voluntarily register with a compliance scheme to declare any packaging on the market.
Over the next few years, European EPR policies are going to become much more complicated. For example, the European Directive on packaging and packaging waste requires all member states to introduce EPR for all packaging by 31 December 2024. This change in legislation means it will impact the countries that do not have any packaging EPR policies in place, such as Denmark. Furthermore, the Single-Use Plastics Directive will also require member states to implement stringent EPR schemes that must cover items such as the cost of littering for SUP food containers, beverage containers, disposable cups, wet wipes, balloons and more, by December 2024. So, for the packaging industry, the next three to five years are certainly not without challenge.
How ecoveritas can help
At ecoveritas, we know that understanding your global EPR obligations is not an easy process. However, our team of skilled data analysts can help you cut through the noise, pinpointing who is responsible in each geographic region, how they are responsible and the actions that should be taken to support a circular economy.
To support packaging manufacturers, brands and retailers, as a first step to understanding their obligations, we have designed a global EPR regulation matrix covering 60+ countries, which provides instant access to global EPR legislation that could impact your business. The matrix is updated on a quarterly basis and new countries are continually added, while further support is provided through email and webinar updates. In addition, the matrix quickly allows businesses to establish in which countries they have a liability.
Once we understand your obligations, ecoveritas offer effective and efficient EPR reporting solutions, so that you can build robust and reliable compliance management processes. Helping you minimise errors and administration costs, we can deliver:
- Highly accurate, tailored calculations for packaging EPR
- Secure data collection and submission services
- Further research on global legislation and advice specific to your business
- Annual, quarterly, and monthly data submissions to country-specific compliance schemes
- Registration with the respective overseeing authorities
- Full accessibility and visibility of your data
We call this our Global EPR Research and Data Management Service. It’s aimed at helping you understand exactly what your obligations are for each country. So, no matter if you are manufacturing ‘X’, ‘Y’ and ‘Z’ products in the UK, but want to export ‘X’ to Turkey, ‘Y’ to Croatia, and ‘Z’ to the USA and Canada, we can assist by identifying potential threats, risks, emerging issues and opportunities within each region.
EPR legislation may be changing, but if we face the challenge together, there is no reason why packaging brands, manufacturers and retailers cannot thrive in a circular economy.