UK Government publishes paper on the summary of stakeholder and Government responses to coherence across the Producer Responsibility regimes

PR Regimes

September 2013

The Government published a discussion paper on 18 April 2013 which requested stakeholder opinions on ideas for developing a more coherent regulatory approach across the different Producer Responsibility (PR) regimes.

The following numbers of responses were received by the 31 May 2013 deadline; 23 responses from Producer Compliance Schemes, 23 from producers, 14 from trade associations, 6 from treatment operators and reprocessors, 6 from advisory organisations and 3 from local authorities/other stakeholders.

The UK’s four Producer Responsibility regimes originate from four EU Directives; the Waste Electrical & Electronic Equipment (WEEE) (2012/19/EU), Waste Batteries & Accumulators (2006/66/EC), Packaging & Packaging Waste (94/62/EC), and End of Life Vehicles (ELV) (2000/53/EC) Directives. Both the government and businesses believe that overall effectiveness of the regulations could be improved and the administrative burdens placed on businesses reduced (please see our September 2012 news item).

The PR regimes are being reviewed by BIS and Defra in order to develop a greater degree of coherence across the regimes in line with the Government’s Red Tape Challenge. The discussion paper investigated 21 proposals for improving coherence, seeking views of stakeholders for each proposal and how they could be improved.

The WEEE Recast is due to come into force on 1 January 2014, the consultation on the WEEE Regulations to implement the recast EU WEEE Directive, was undertaken in June 2013. The WEEE consultation indicates that some of the coherence proposals will be included in the WEEE Recast. The batteries and packaging coherence proposals will be included with the amendments to the Batteries and Packaging Regulations (1 January 2015). No amendments have been proposed for the ELV Regulations as a result of this investigation.

Changes to the PR regimes include the following:

Issue 1: De-minimis - 55% support, 17% opposition

A proposal for a de-minimis in the WEEE, Batteries and Packaging Directives to broadly exempt smaller business from the need to become a registered producer. The proposal was mainly supported by those stakeholders, but often with conditions. One such condition was to ensure that there is a balance between reducing burdens on smaller business compared to any increase on the burdens larger businesses.

The Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) consulted separately on detailed proposals to introduce a de-minimis within the UK WEEE Regulations; a Government Response to this consultation was published on 12 September. The Government will offer a number of options for de-minimis levels for the Batteries and Packaging Directives for consultation in due course.

Issue 5: Carry forward / backward - 27% support, 24% opposition

A proposal to adopt the principle of carry forward of evidence (as in the Packaging Directive) in the WEEE and Batteries regimes. There was a mixed response to the idea of carry forward of evidence from those who responded to this proposal and no support for carry back. Some concerns were raised by those involved in WEEE that this could present significant risks to the WEEE system as it could negatively impact the ability of compliance schemes to meet their obligations. Government will not take forward the idea of carry back due to the lack of support. However, the idea of carry forward will be considered further.

Issue 6: Registration - 43% support, 21% opposition

A proposal to have a common procedure for the provision of; business information, data and any relevant charges in the registration processes for WEEE, Batteries and Packaging. Two options were suggested for registration deadlines:

  1. a common registration deadline date of 31st March
  2. staggered registration deadline dates:
  • Batteries 31st January
  • WEEE 1st March
  • Packaging 31st March

Most stakeholders supported the option of staggered dates to help reduce burdens internally. Government will consider further the potential for a common registration process with staggered reporting requirements as this would mean lesser costs for businesses. Proposals for amendments to the WEEE, Packaging and Batteries Regulations will be undertaken in due course. The registration deadlines will not be in the spring as proposed, but will be moved to the autumn prior to commencement of a compliance period, and sales data and obligation will be based on, for example, the preceding July-June year.

Issue 7: Group registration - 43% support, 5% opposition

A proposal for a holding company to make a single group registration on behalf of all its subsidiary producers within the WEEE and Batteries Regulations. This was widely supported by stakeholders who responded to this proposal, but with a preference for group registration to be kept optional. To be considered further.

Issue 9: Charging - 41% support, 27% opposition

A proposal to review the charges and move to a common method for the producer registration charge across all the regimes. The proposal would be for a two tier registration charge based on the size of the producer. There were mixed responses to the proposal. Concerns were raised related to the possible impact on smaller compliance schemes, particularly within WEEE system. There is a general view that there is no need for two tier producer fees as admin burden of demonstrating size of producer outweighs benefit of lower fee. Support was based on the assumption that it would lead to overall cost savings. Government are keen to look at this issue further, but will need to carefully consider the costs and impacts in more detail and work up options for consultation.

Issue 16: Approvals process - 56% support, 11% opposition

There were two options under consideration for improving the application process for reprocessors/treatment operators and exporters:

  • Option 1 - streamline the application process for both domestic reprocessors and exporters.
  • Option 2 - remove the application process entirely for domestic reprocessors and instead rely on the application information being provided by the waste permitting/registered exemption process; the process for accreditation of exporters would remain the same.

Option 2 is likely to have the most potential for cost-savings but would need a significant change to the current system and so requires further work to consider how it could work in practice. Therefore Option 1 will be pursued in the short-term but Option 2 will be explored further to find how it could be implemented in the longer term.

Issue 21: Terminology - 59% support, none in opposition

A proposal for terminology used across the regulations to be standardised. All those who responded on this proposal were in support of standardised terminology across the regimes. Government plan to take this proposal forward.

The summary of the responses and the government response is available on the National Packaging Waste Database (NPWD).