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George Atkinson

Head of Policy, Valpak

Pete Mitchell

Practice Manager, Valpak

Businesses are urged to take steps now to decrease their environmental impact and mitigate the costs of recycling products and packaging under new Government-legislated obligations.

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for packaging will mean that in addition to producers contributing to recycling costs at the far end of the waste management chain, they will also now be expected to fund the collection of packaging waste from households. 

George Atkinson, Head of Policy for Valpak, a Reconomy brand, says: “It’s primarily brands and retailers that will need to fund this EPR initiative. The amount they will pay will be dependent on the weight of packaging and its base material. For example, those placing plastic on the UK market will pay a different amount to those placing paper or wood.” 

Penalties for difficult to recycle materials 

A crucial part of the EPR initiative is called ‘eco-modulation. This will penalise producers placing costly or difficult-to-recycle packaging on the market like expanded polystyrene, which many councils don’t collect because of the costly challenges associated with recycling it. 

“Businesses will need to look at the characteristics of their packaging in greater detail than ever before and seek to reduce the weight, make it recyclable and add recycled content wherever possible,” adds George. Reconomy brand Valpak is a packaging compliance specialist, offering companies a wide range of environmental solutions. 

Businesses will need to look at the characteristics of
their packaging in greater detail than ever before.

George Atkinson

Measuring impacts on the environment 

Pete Mitchell, Practice Manager, spearheads the company’s Life Cycle Assessments (LCA) solution, which helps clients mitigate their environmental impacts through audits aimed at finding their highest environmental impacts — or ‘hotspots’ — and target changes to enhance sustainability. 

An LCA measures the environmental impact of a product over its entire life cycle (cradle-to-grave). Typically, clients focus on the carbon footprint of their products and packaging, but LCA covers a much broader range of environmental impacts caused by products — or organisations — by considering over 30 impact categories that potentially affect human health, land and marine ecosystems and the Earth’s resources. 

“While there are delays around the implementation of EPR, it is going to happen,” he says. “It will have major cost implications, and businesses need to take action now to mitigate those costs and reduce their environmental impacts.” 

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