19 May 2021

Packaging consultations - where we are?

Jude Allan, Chair of the Packaging Society, looks at what's been happening within IOM3 in the lead up to packaging responses due in June 2021.

As you may be aware there are two big pieces of government policy out for consultation at the moment, relating to packaging Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) across all 4 nations of the UK and introducing a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) for England, Wales and Northern Ireland, there is also now a third consultation on Consistency of Household and Business Recycling in England.

Policies and consultations may not sound like the most exciting thing to get involved with when there’s already a lot of things on your priority list, but they are vital as this is where decisions are made about the systems that we’ll all be working and living with for the next couple of decades at least. My own experience is that once you take the plunge and start to read the consultation documents they’re actually a lot more accessible than I thought they would be, there is a lot to read but it is worth the time and I’d really encourage you to read them yourselves.

IOM3 is responding to the EPR and DRS consultations representing members’ views. To represent members’ views, that first means communication out to the membership to help to inform and ensure awareness of the consultation and then secondly it means listening to the views of the members. Over the past few weeks there have been a range of activities to support this communication.

While as the Chair of the IOM3 Packaging Society involvement in these consultations has been a key focus for myself and the board, it has also been really encouraging to see the amount of collaboration across all of the Technical Communities within IOM3 and across the sectors.

The first event was an IOM3 webinar on 29 April focusing on the material specific aspects of the packaging EPR consultations with speakers from across the material spectrum and through the whole value chain of packaging suppliers, brand owners and waste management.

There was a pre-recorded session that was available to listen to before the webinar in which Dr Colin Church CEO IOM3 and IOM3 Resources Strategy Group board members Dr Adam Read FIMMM External Affairs Director, SUEZ Recycling & Recovery UK and Pat Jennings, Policy, Knowledge & External Affairs Director, CIWM gave an overview of the consultations, highlighting the key points and concerns. If you are interested in understanding a little bit about what the consultations are about this is a really accessible starting point. 

The webinar itself was two hours packed full of insights and perspectives about the consultations in general, specifics about the different materials and then rounding it up with how it will work for the consumer with a focus on labelling and finally a brand owner perspective looking at how Diageo is approaching the system thinking changes beyond recycling and towards a circular economy.

The central section of the webinar was a focus on the material specific implications and questions within the consultations in which key sector specialists including representatives from across the different Technical Communities of IOM3 spoke about the specific concerns relating to the main material groups that the consultations focus on:

  • Metal
  • Plastics
  • Glass
  • Paper & Board
  • Wood

One of the things that I’ve always really enjoyed about packaging is the range of materials used and this event was a great example of the cross community collaboration that IOM3 is able to facilitate from its in depth knowledge of these materials.

IOM3 has also been working with partners from across the whole supply chain, CIWM, ADEPT, BRC, ESA, FDF, Incpen, LARAC and NAWDO to deliver of a set of collaborative webinars. This has been a 9-way partnership with the intent to give a cross supply chain view and the sharing of those views has reinforced a sense of togetherness which will be key in an overall positive outcome for the delivery of the final policy.

The first webinar covered a range of perspectives on packaging EPR. The second webinar on DRS was chaired by Dr Colin Church and I was invited to speak at the end of a packed schedule about materials and packaging design implications of DRS.

Both events were planned and chaired really effectively covering a huge amount of ground in each 2-hour webinar. They were a great opportunity to hear insights and concerns from across the supply chain and from some fantastic speakers who are right at the heart of these conversations. It was also really good to see IOM3 as part of this collaboration and to be one of the voices representing IOM3 in the conversation around the consultations.

There will be a third webinar in the series on 20 May covering the Collection Consistency for Household and Business Recycling, this is the third consultation which was only published on 7 May so you may not have had chance to read it yet. IOM3 won’t be officially responding to this consultation but it is heavily linked with the other two consultations so it is definitely worthwhile being aware of and I’ll certainly be attending to learn more. 

Unpacking the consultation webinars series

IOM3 is pleased to be supporting a series of free collaborative webinars on the current UK packaging Extended Producer Responsibility, Deposit Return Scheme (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) and Collection Consistency consultations.

IOM3 has also been actively calling for input from its membership in order to ensure that the voices of its members are being heard and shared. I’ve been lucky to take part in a series of virtual workshops allowing open discussions about some of the details within the consultations which has been really interesting and enlightening. There is also an EPR survey which you could fill out to share your views. 

Have your say

This high-level survey is designed to capture members’ views which will inform the IOM3 EPR response.

Take the survey

This is one of the hottest of hot topics now and while there is a huge amount of available information and data which can make it feel like climbing an entire mountain range, it’s incredibly important to be involved in the conversation. I’d like to thank everyone who has been involved in the conversation already and I’d like to encourage anyone who hasn’t yet engaged with these consultation to read the consultation documents or listen to some of the resources shared above.

Consultation links:

https://consult.defra.gov.uk/extended-producer-responsibility/extended-producer-responsibility-for-packaging/supporting_documents/23.03.21%20EPR%20Consultation.pdf

https://consult.defra.gov.uk/environment/consultation-on-introducing-a-drs/supporting_documents/DRS%20Consultation%20FINAL%20.pdf

https://consult.defra.gov.uk/waste-and-recycling/consistency-in-household-and-business-recycling/supporting_documents/Recycling%20Consistency%20Final%20Consultation_May%202021.pdf

Collection and Packaging Reforms - Summary of Impacts