The UK government has confirmed the extended producer responsibility (EPR) scheme has been deferred for a year, until October 2025.
Defra (The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) said the decision, taken jointly with the devolved administrations, followed “extensive engagement” with industry and had factored in the “pressure facing consumers and businesses in the current economic context.”
Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said: “We’re determined to transform the way we collect, recycle and reuse our waste materials so we eliminate all avoidable waste by 2050 in a way that works for households and consumers. That’s better for our environment.”
Government said it would use the additional year to continue to discuss the scheme’s design with industry and reduce the costs of implementation wherever possible.
The announcement triggered a mixed reaction, with Nina Schrank, plastics campaign lead at Greenpeace labelling it an “utterly cynical move and yet another sign of the Government’s dismal environmental record.”
She added: “This isn’t about helping people struggling with the cost of living but simply letting big polluters off the hook.”
Others, however, welcomed the delay as a chance to fine-tune the scheme and roll it out more effectively.
Sainsbury’s CEO Simon Roberts said: “Whilst we remain absolutely committed to a circular economy and support the introduction of EPR, we welcome today’s announcement.
“This will provide the necessary time to work across our industry and with Government in order to get EPR right first time.”
Leading environmental compliance data specialist Ecoveritas, meanwhile, provided critical support to Defra’s decision. Head of Sustainability & Consulting, Kathy Illingworth. “For an ambitious reform, it has long been apparent that there were too many missing puzzle pieces and far too many detractors before its launch.”
She added: “It’s bittersweet. This pause for thought should allow Defra to build in more clarity, but there is certainly a job to be done to rebuild confidence.”