UK Policy & Legislation Summary, March 2022

March 23, 2022

As of March 2022, a number of environmental legislations have, and continue to be discussed that will impact households and businesses across both England and the UK in general. More detailed information, which was correct as of November 2021, can be found in the RECOUP 2021 UK Household Plastics Collection Survey, which can be downloaded for free from the RECOUP website:

HMRC: Plastic Packaging Tax (UK)

From April 2022, HMRC is introducing a Plastic Packaging Tax, designed to incentivise the use of recycled content in plastic packaging. This is to be charged at £200 per tonne for packaging which is predominantly plastic by weight and contains less than 30 per cent recycled plastic content.

There are limited exemptions, such as packaging used in direct contact with licenced human medicines, and for those who manufacture or import less than 10 tonnes of plastic packaging annually.

More information on the UK Plastic Packaging Tax can be found on the HMRC website at:

Defra: Reform of the Packaging Producer Responsibility System (UK)

Following a consultation in 2021, Defra is currently in the planning stage for the reform of the Packaging Producer Responsibility System in the UK, otherwise known as Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR). This system will replace the current Packaging Recovery Notes (PRN) and Export PRN system.

The key principle is that packaging producers, and those who use plastic packaging, will be responsible for the full net cost of managing the collection, transport, sorting, reprocessing and disposal of used packaging, whilst also funding consumer communication campaigns and the clean-up costs of packaging litter and fly-tipping. This will be done through eco-modulation, with packaging subject to a cost that varies depending on its environmental impact and recyclability.

The Government estimates that costs to producers will be in the region of £2.7bn in the first full year of implementation, which is broadly 10 times the current estimated packaging producer costs.

As of this month, Defra has announced a delay to the implementation of EPR, with new timescales for its implementation to be communicated soon. In the meantime, the current responsibility system and targets will continue to be used in 2023. Defra has also stated that it does not plan to further consult on the fundamentals EPR prior to its implementation.

More information on the Reform of the Packaging Producer Responsibility System can be found on the Defra website at: 

Defra: Single-use plastic: banning the supply of commonly littered single-use plastic items (England)

In February 2022, consultation responses were submitted to Defra in respect of proposals for single-use plastic bans.

This proposes the banning of the following single-use item types that contain any plastic content:

– Plates

– Cutlery

– Balloon sticks

– Expanded and extruded polystyrene food and drink containers.

A call for evidence also sought views on the restriction or taxing additional items, including:

– Single-use cups

– Cigarette filters

– Wet wipes.

This has taken place following similar single-use plastic consultations in Wales (in 2020) 1 and Northern Ireland (January 2022) 2, and broadly follows the EU Single-Use Plastic Directive. Legislation on the Scottish ban of Single-use Plastic items (due to be implemented in Summer 2022 subject to the Internal Markets Act) can found at:

More information on the Single-use Plastic legislation for England can be found on the Defra website, at:

Defra: Consistency in Household and Business Recycling in England

In 2021, Defra consulted on the standardisation of recycling collections in England, having proposed a core set list of materials that are collected for recycling from households and businesses. Proposals within the consultation included the collection of plastic films and flexibles from households for recycling as early as 2025, and for separate food waste collections for all households.

This year, Defra is due to release its response and outcomes from the consultation that took place in Summer 2021. Devolved Governments also have strategies and targets which are reflected in different policy objectives and support for increasing recycling.

More information on the Consistency in Household and Business Recycling in England legislation can be found on the Defra website, at:

Defra: Introducing a Deposit Return Scheme in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland

Defra also consulted on the implementation of a Deposit Return Scheme in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. At this point, proposals suggest a 20p deposit be placed on PET plastic, glass, and aluminium drinks containers, with consumers required to return them to designated points to reclaim their deposit. This takeback scheme will consist of both reverse vending machines and manual returns across each country.

The use of a ‘Digital DRS’ (DDRS) is currently being assessed. This is where consumers can claim their deposit at home by scanning their drinks containers on their smart phones when placing them for recycling.

The Republic of Ireland plans to begin the introduction of its own DRS system, for PET plastic and aluminium cans only, from mid-to-late 2022 3, and Scotland plan to do the same, including glass, from August 2023 4.

More information on the Deposit Return Scheme legislation can be found on the Defra website at:

Other Legislation

Devolved Governments have strategies and targets which are reflected in different policy objectives and support for increasing recycling. The Scottish Government and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) have a Household Recycling Charter 5. Wales has an overarching waste strategy document, Towards Zero Waste 6, and its established Collections Blueprint 7, and Northern Ireland has a waste management strategy, Delivering Resource Efficiency 8. As well as these, the Competition Markets Authority have consulted on, and issued guidance on environmental claims 9.

The use of plastic packaging in the UK will be further impacted by legislation in Europe, including amendments to the Basel Convention 10 and the European Commission’s Waste Shipping Guidance (for exporting recycling materials) 11 , the impact of the Northern Ireland Protocol 12 , food safety – recycled plastic in food packaging 13 and the use of bio-based, biodegradable and compostable plastics 14 in EU Member States.

In addition, Defra is also currently consulting on the implementation of mandatory digital waste tracking 15 , reform of the waste carrier, broker, dealer registration system in England 16 and a consultation on environmental targets 17. The first two of these will impact on the transport and evidence of managing and moving waste.

RECOUP will continue to follow developments closely and update members as more information and progress is made available. If you have any questions, please email

RECOUP is a charity and leading authority providing expertise and guidance across the plastics recycling value chain. Built on a network of valued members, collaboration is central to its activities. RECOUP is committed to securing sustainable, circular, and practical solutions for plastic resources both in the UK and world-wide.












12 _Protocol_to_the_Withdrawal_Agreement.pdf