What exactly is EPR?
Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is a policy approach where producers are given a significant responsibility, whether financial and/or physical, for the treatment or disposal of post-consumer products. It is set to replace the current Packaging Recovery Note (PRN) system.
Giving this responsibility could, in principle, provide incentives to prevent waste at the source, promote product design for the environment and support the achievement of public recycling and materials management targets. Essentially, the ongoing development of EPR schemes is important for achieving the goal of a circular economy. It has been lauded as a resounding success in Europe.While EPR has been around for at least 30 years, developing legislation, and changes in the 2018 amendment to the Directive on Waste will accelerate techniques honed over the decades. Specifically for the packaging industry, in June, a second consultation by DEFRA closed with the defra.gov.uk website stating that proposals set out in the consultation document will work together to create a scheme that “incentivises producers to design packaging that is easy to recycle and ensure that they pay the full net cost of managing this packaging once it becomes waste. This is in line with the polluter-pays principle.”
What are the implications for brands?
Brands are reviewing their packaging portfolios and will continueto do so in order to fully understand the impact of the choices they make on the consumer and our environment as well as their bottom line. Our CupCycling™ facility is the world’s first recycling process dedicated to upcycling take-away cups, while COLOURFORM, offers brands a renewableand easily recyclable solution to plastic. For 176 years, the sustainable message of ‘redefining paper’ has been firmly embedded in James Cropper’s past, present and will be in the future.Therefore, we were heartened last month (June), to see global brands showing their serious commitment to EPR when 100 companies in the packaging value chain, with 50 other organisations, signed a statement endorsing EPR on the website of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, which is dedicated to accelerating the transition to a circular economy.
This commitment to contribute financially, with payment of fees, will be the bedrock of EPR. While it will vary in different countries, the implications of paying fees will lie with not only brands, but also importers of packaged products into a country where they will have to pay the EPR fees.
Brands will also want to ensure that their fees are used to cover just direct costs to do with sorting, recycling, and package collection. Ensuring that packaging is as easy to recycle as it can possibly be Is key to managing the potential costs which come out of the consultation – and now is the time to act.
Signatory companies recognised EPR as a necessary part of the solution to create the circular economy for packaging.
Michael Goltzman, VP, Global Policy & Sustainability, The Coca Cola CompanyWe support this statement on the important role that well-designed EPR systems can play in keeping packaging material out of the environment and in the circular economy. Good EPR schemes can motivate businesses and help us achieve our circular economy targets.
What do brands need to think about?
In three words, ‘being environmentally friendly’, is the key message and one which has been on the agenda for environment, social and governance boards across the country for some time. One way of doing this is to build EPR into company budgets, to show their commitment going forward. By signing the Ellen MacArthur Foundation statement, endorser organisations recognise that they need to make three firm commitments:
1. Ensure their entire organisation is aligned on, and their actions are in line with their commitment on EPR.
2. Be constructive in their engagement with governments and other stakeholders: advocating for the establishment of well-designed EPR policies and being supportive in working out how to implement and continuously improve EPR schemes in the local context.
3. Engage with their peers and the relevant associations and collaborations we are part of to work towards aligning their positions and actions accordingly.
What solutions are out there?
A real step forward would be for brands to be looking at reducing their overall amount of packaging, by removing unnecessary packaging or rethinking pack design, choosing renewable materials, and ensuring at end of life that packaging is easy to recycle by opting for mono-material solutions as well as using materials which can be recycled a number of times.
As a paper innovator and supplier to the packaging industry, we have long been committed to providing paper and our packaging solution COLOURFORM as sustainable packaging options that
are a natural fit to the circular economy approach, and a go-to replacement to problematic plastic packaging as companies look for more environmentally friendly ways to produce their products.
For example, the COLOURFORM team has worked with Champagne house Maison Ruinart to create eco-designed packaging nine times lighter than the original and that delivered a 60% reduction in material and waste. These sorts of innovations should be embraced by brands in the knowledge that EPR commitments can be met whilst maintaining the integrity of brand
Also, part of the EPR is recognition that a mandatory approach to the recycling of used coffee cups is required to drive recycling rates beyond the present status and help promote a clear call
to action for consumers to eliminate confusion about the recyclability of paper cups. Through CupCycling, our world’s first recycling process and award-winning innovation dedicated to upcycling take-away coffee cups, we are able to recover the fibre from cups and create beautiful packaging and papers. For brands, incorporating solutions like this can elevate brand stories. Being able to say that packaging used to be a coffee cup takes the idea of ‘being environmentally friendly’ from conceptual to the tangible in the mind of the consumer.