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June 2024

Packaging EPR Focus on labelling

We consider the new mandatory labelling requirements that will take effect under the full EPR Regulations from 31st March 2027, together with the Simpler Recycling reforms which are intended to provide increased recycling of packaging waste.

The UK Government have submitted proposed EPR Regulations with effect to the labelling requirements to the World Trade Association and the European Union as required by the Northern Ireland Protocol.  If no changes are required as consequence of this, then the revised Regulations should come into force by 1st January 2025.  These Regulations provide new timescales for implementation of mandatory primary packaging labelling, with all primary and shipment packaging now required to be labelled by 31st March 2027, including plastic films and flexibles.

In the Government’s EPR consultation outcome, a different labelling deadline was prescribed for plastic films and flexibles to that of other packaging materials.

A combination of the delay in full EPR implementation and the Government’s response to its consultation on Consistency in Household and Business Recycling in England which introduced “Simpler Recycling”, the labelling provisions for all packaging materials are now aligned. Simpler Recycling requires the collection of all plastic films and flexibles by all Local Authorities in England from 31st March 2027.

By this date, all Local Authorities in England must collect paper and card, plastic, glass, metal, food waste and garden waste from households. All non-household municipal premises must collect the same materials except garden waste. The plastics collected will include not only plastic bottles and pots, tubs and trays, but also some plastic tubes, cartons, films and bags.

Whilst the labelling requirements apply to both household and non-household packaging, producer labelling will clearly help householders to understand the new types of packaging that they can recycle under Simpler Recycling.

As we have advised in previous editions of Compliance at a Glance, the Recycle and Do Not Recycle SWOOSH symbols are the only recycling labels that can be used to meet the mandatory labelling requirements.

 

For some packaging materials, these must be supplemented by “Recycling Instructions” – instructions on how the packaging can be recycled other than being collected by a Local Authority.

Whilst 31st March 2027 is fast approaching, Defra have yet to publish their Recyclability Assessment, which will determine which packaging materials are classed as recyclable and their labelling rules, which will define exactly how the labels should be used. Whilst this makes it difficult for producers to prepare for the new labelling requirements effectively, the Regulations do provide some headline requirements:

Which packaging must be labelled?

  • Packer/fillers, brand owners, importers and first UK owners are responsible for labelling – there is not a de minimis;
  • Primary and shipment packaging must be labelled where:
    • The surface area of the packaging is not less than 25 square cm;
    • The packaging is not exempt packaging (for example, it is not exported nor subject to a Deposit Scheme).

What are the labelling requirements?

  • The symbol and any Recycling Instructions must be placed together on the packaging;
  • They must be visible and not hidden or obscured;
  • Different arrangements are in place for some medicinal packaging;
  • If the largest surface area of the packaging is greater than 80cm2, the words must have an x-height of at least 1.2mm, the symbol at least 9.5mm high when displayed in portrait, or 3.5mm in landscape;
  • If the largest surface area of the packaging is less than 80cm2, the words must have an x-height of at least 0.9mm, the symbol at least 7mm high when displayed in portrait, or 3.5mm in landscape;
  • When primary packaging is comprised of several different components, the producer may:
    • place the label on the outer component, or the main component, which must indicate if each component is recyclable
    • place the label on each component, which must indicate if it is recyclable.

The following are alternative arrangements for filled unbranded packaging (such as plain envelopes or boxes used for shipment purposes):

  • Recycling information can be supplied on either the packaging or a label affixed to the packaging;
  • Where the product is ordered online, the recycling information can be displayed as part of the description of the product on the page where the purchaser choses which product to buy;
  • Where the product is sold other than by a website, by displaying the packaging recycling information in the place where the product is sold, in a prominent position where everyone purchasing the product will see it;
  • By including recycling material with other written material provided by the purchaser provided that it is easily visible on that material.

Defra have previously advised that their first publication of estimated “Base Fees” (Local Authority Disposal Costs) were awaiting clearance and would be provided “imminently. We now understand that these are due to be released in August 2024, presumably as consequence of the General Election timing.

 

Expected three month response to WEEE consultation likely to be delayed.

As we advised in our April edition of Compliance at a Glance, Government received 320 responses to their WEEE Consultation. They expected to provide the consultation outcome within three months of the deadline for responses, which was 7th March 2024. The impending General Election, now announced for 4th July 2024, is, however, likely to delay this response.
We will of course keep you informed of important changes and also of any future policy development work to be undertaken by Government.

 

Deadline to sign your 2023 EEE Declaration is fast approaching.

If you have not already signed your 2023 EEE Declaration, please log onto the REPIC Portal to download and sign the document and return a scanned copy to Jack at jstudholme@repic.co.uk as soon as possible. As always if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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