How You Can Help: Responsible Packaging Choices

How You Can Help: Responsible Packaging Choices

12th Dec 2023

As a business, choosing how to package your items can be quite daunting. While you will always want to opt for packaging that is ultimately protective to avoid damages during transit, you will also need to consider costs, storage and sustainability. The latter is often a final thought, but with new changes to EPR and packaging regulations, it’s something businesses might want to bring to the forefront of their mind to avoid being hit with eye-watering fees.

What are the EPR and Packaging Regulations?

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) was provisionally set to come into effect earlier this year but has recently experienced some delays meaning there will be no payments due under EPR in 2024 for businesses. EPR is an extension of the existing UK Packaging Waste Regulations and is set to be put in place to ensure UK businesses carry more responsibility for their recycling and waste management.

Any organisation that uses packaging will be asked to put up the costs for each product’s full lifecycle, which now also includes its packaging and recycling. This cost was previously paid for in full or in part by the local government.

The new regulations will apply to all UK organisations, except charities, with a turnover of £1million or more and responsible for over 25 tonnes of packaging in a calendar year. Regardless of whether the business is selling the goods under their own brand, packaging into unbranded boxes, using packaging for transit, importing goods, supplying and/or hiring packaging, or they sell online, the regulations will apply. Organisations can use this tool by Defra for guidance on their usage and payments.

As soon as the law takes effect, organisations will need to collect and submit all data relating to their packaging, pay a waste management fee and purchase packaging waste recycling notes. Larger businesses will need to submit this report every 6 months, while smaller businesses will be required to do it annually.

While there has been a delay in these regulations, it’s imperative that businesses still act now as they will need to collect and report EPR data for January to June 2023 under EPR as originally planned. No EPR fees will need to be paid against this data in 2024. However, in Q1 of 2024, businesses are required to collect and report data under the 2007 Packaging Regulations for 2024 (2023) and pay any packaging and recycling notes. Essentially, in 2024, the previous regulations roll-over for another year.

Recyclable packaging

Why is the Law Changing?

The government wants businesses to bear more responsibility when it comes to packaging and waste. The financial burden associated with waste needs to be on the organisation responsible for the product itself. The reason behind this is to promote sustainability and encourage consideration for the environment and the impact packaging waste can have on it.

So, what can you do to help?

To ensure you’re not hit with substantial fees when the new regulations take effect, it’s worth assessing how sustainable your packaging is now and making any suitable changes.

Responsible Packaging Options

While the new EPR regulations might be the final push for businesses to adopt more sustainable packaging practices, there are other crucial reasons to choose recyclable packaging.

Sustainable packaging reduces a business’s carbon footprint by minimising waste generation and ensuring an eco-friendly manufacturing process is adopted. This not only has a positive impact on the environment, it enhances brand reputation and loyalty among environmentally conscious consumers, contributing to long-term customer retention.

By choosing recyclable and biodegradable packaging, you are helping to mitigate the buildup of waste in landfills and oceans. It also helps support a circular economy, where materials are reused or recycled, lessening the strain on ecosystems and fostering a healthier planet.

Packaging in landfill

Here are some ways to introduce more eco-friendly packaging practices to your business:

  • Ditch the plastic! Choose recyclable materials such as cardboard boxes.
  • Secure your products with biodegradable void fill to avoid long-term waste at landfills.
  • Check your cardboard box manufacturer is FSC Certified.
  • Use the right size packaging for your products to avoid excess waste. Our Box Builder can help you do this.
  • Consider working with a conservation organisation such as One Tree Planted.

Businesses that prioritise environmentally friendly packaging not only contribute positively to the preservation of our planet, but also resonate deeply with consumers who value sustainability, fostering a stronger connection and loyalty to their brand. On top of that, putting these responsible packaging practices in place now will ensure your business is ready when the new EPR regulations come into effect.