Ecoveritas has issued a clarion call to the horticulture industry, urging businesses to lead by example during the transition to extended producer responsibility (EPR) data collection requirements.
The transition between the existing Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations 2007 and the new EPR system has been plagued by delays and confusion as the government works out the finer details of the new scheme. To support the horticulture industry, Ecoveritas has partnered with the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) to provide free, early access to its my.ecoveritas platform ahead of the official launch in March 2024.
“As an industry that quite literally depends on the Earth, it’s only fitting that the horticulture sector should set the tone for EPR,” said Sandy Dhesi, Commercial Manager at Ecoveritas. “We understand that the chaotic rollout has made this process more difficult than it needs to be, but it’s up to businesses to grab the issue by the horns and lead by example.
Horticulture ‘relying on plastics’
“Many horticulture businesses rely heavily on plastics and plastic packaging, so they have an influential voice when it comes to discussions about reducing plastic waste. And we at Ecoveritas are committed to guiding our partners in the horticulture sector through these changes, every step of the way.”
In September, the Environment Agency announced that, while it was keeping its first two data submission deadlines under EPR for large producers (1 October 2023 and 1 April 2024), it would not prosecute businesses that missed them provided all data is submitted by 31 May 2024 – effectively creating a hard third deadline. In addition, businesses are still expected to submit data required by the 2007 regulations as normal, creating a complex dual-reporting transition period.
Businesses are to be classed as large producers if they have an annual turnover of £2 million or more and they’re responsible for supplying or importing more than 50 tonnes of empty packaging or packaged goods in the UK.
Businesses are classed as small producers if either their annual turnover is between £1 million and £2 million and they’re responsible for supplying or importing more than 25 tonnes of empty packaging or packaged goods in the UK or their annual turnover is over £1 million and you’re responsible for supplying or importing between 25 tonnes and 50 tonnes of empty packaging or packaged goods in the UK.
Delays announced for horticulture sector
In December, DEFRA announced further delays to small producer and nation of sale reporting. The original deadlines were set for 1April and 1 December 2024, relating to 2023 placed on market figures. The first deadline for small producers to submit data is expected to be 1 April 2025, and for 2024’s nation-of-sale data to be reported in July 2025. However, small producers and those impacted by nation-of-sale obligations are still required to calculate and retain their obligation data relating to 2023.
The delays are a result of the ‘main’ EPR regulations that will revoke the current 2007 ‘PRN regulations’ not being passed yet and the 2023 EPR data reporting regulations requiring further changes in 2024.
The my.ecoveritas platform will continue to support the horticultural industry with both small producer and nation-of-sale data collection and retention so that garden centres, growers and nurseries have a robust audit trail and meet the requirements under the data reporting regulations.
The nation-of-sale data requirement applies to both large and small organisations and you can check if you need to report nation data here. The data submitted will be used to work out how much packaging has been disposed of in each nation, and therefore to what extent recycling targets have been met.
“This transition period should represent the perfect chance to build up that muscle memory for businesses – to entrench enhanced data collection as a core business operation,” added Dhesi. “The my.ecoveritas platform, with exclusive early access for horticulture businesses, provides all the tools needed to start developing those data collection muscles that companies didn’t know they had – but that they’ll need in 2024.”
To learn more about Ecoveritas and its range of data compliance services, visit www.ecoveritas.com.