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Producer responsibility

Producer responsibility extends the “polluter pays” principle. It aims to ensure that businesses that sell or produce products take responsibility for the products when they reach the end of their life.

The UK takes a “producer responsibility” policy approach on:

  • packaging and waste
  • Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE)
  • End-of-Life Vehicles (ELV)
  • batteries and accumulators
  • agricultural waste.

The Welsh Government aims to reduce the quantity of waste going to landfill by diverting end-of-life products to re-use, recycling or other forms of recovery.

Producer responsibility places some of the costs of the management of products when they become waste onto the producers that placed the products on the market.

Producer responsibility schemes can give producers an incentive to design products in a way that:

  • uses fewer resources
  • reduces or eliminates the use of hazardous substances or materials in the manufacture of the product
  • uses greater amounts of recycled material in the manufacture of the product
  • can be reused
  • can be more easily treated/dismantled and recycled.

Review of the  Producer Responsibility regimes

On 18 April 2013, the UK Government published a discussion paper to develop a more coherent regulatory approach across the different Producer Responsibility regimes.

The UK's four Producer Responsibility regimes originate from 4 EU Directives.

Each Directive applies Producer Responsibility to a specific product category.

There are significant differences between the regimes. Some differences are due to different products and markets or differences in the requirements of the EU Directives. Other differences are the result of policy being developed at different times. This has led to inconsistencies for businesses which have to comply with more than 1 producer responsibility regime.

We have been working with the Departments for Environment Food and Rural Affairs and Business Innovation and Skills to review all Producer Responsibility regimes.  This work covers:

  • exploring opportunities to develop a greater degree of coherence across the regimes
  • looking at ways these regimes work and where they could be improved
  • maximising their overall effectiveness and reducing administrative burdens for business.

The discussion paper explored  21 proposals for improving coherence, seeking views on support for each proposal and how they could be improved. The vast majority of UK stakeholders supported the proposals to simplify the various UK Producer Responsibility regimes.

The summary of stakeholder and Government responses (external link) is available on the Environment Agency website.

Contacts

The link below will provide you with further information on the work of the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) in regard to Producer Responsibility. Due to the Environment Agency regulating for England and Wales we work in parallel or in conjunction with DEFRA to ensure a common and consistent approach in both Wales and England.

Visit: Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (external link)

The Environment Agency is the environmental regulator in Wales and England. You can contact the Environment Agency Wales’ 24 hour hotline on 0800 807 060, which provides further information and guidance.

If you have any comments on this web page or queries about producer responsibility in Wales, you can email Waste@wales.gsi.gov.uk.