8 things you need to know about Defra’s EPR packaging waste rules

By Amanda Pauley | Published: 26-Jan-2023

The Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for packaging waste requires UK businesses to record data about the packaged goods they supply and their recycling processes. We breakdown the new regulation

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Sustainability is high on the agenda for the UK as it works towards its eco-friendly goals.

One of the most important new regulations is the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) EPR for packaging waste.

It is changing the way UK businesses responsible for packaging carry out their recycling, with a new onus on reporting packaging data.

This means beauty businesses must take steps to record data about all the empty packaging and packaged goods they handle and supply throughout the UK.

“The rules have been brought in to get people to start building waste management into their business models,” says Victoria Brownlie, Chief Policy Officer of the British Beauty Council. 

“It is to get companies to look at the recycling potential of the packaging they are creating and to go through the correct routes to ensure it is recycled in the proper way. 

“Or, they will essentially have to pay a tax for waste management.”

What does the EPR for packaging waste regulation mean for my beauty business? 

If your company is affected by the EPR then you will need to start collecting the correct packaging data from this month (January 2023).

The regulation covers individual businesses, subsidiaries or groups with an annual turnover of £1m or more which carries out any ‘packaging activities’ and is responsible for more than 25 tonnes of packaging in a calendar year.

“It essentially means that, based on turnover and meeting certain criteria, companies will have to do a number of different things that they would not otherwise have previously had to do,” explains Sarah-Jane Dobson, Partner at law firm Kennedys. 

This refers to data collection, data management and reporting for packaging waste.

“It is about setting up a proper system to capture this information and many companies currently do not have this,” adds Dobson.

“If you do not do it soon then it will become quite difficult to reinvent the wheel.” 

See if you need to act using Defra’s UK EPR Obligation Checker.

Vital things businesses need to know about the EPR for packaging rules:


1. If affects more people than you think

“The rules are quite far reaching,” says Brownlie. “Anybody that handles or supplies packaging is going to be affected by the regulation.” 

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