France EPR legislation ‘catching UK businesses unawares’

ENVIRONMENTAL compliance specialist Valpak has claimed that UK businesses are being caught out by the latest French EPR legislation.

France operates extended producer responsibility (EPR) schemes for textiles and furniture. Last year, following the introduction of new EPR for DIY equipment, gardening equipment and toys, a team from Valpak organised a scoping trip to Paris.

Reporting back, international compliance manager Kate Loosmore said that UK businesses unaware of the new regulations are facing ‘serious repercussions’.

She explained, “Unlike UK compliance, the French schemes have no size threshold, so businesses are obligated as soon as they place one item onto the market. And with online marketplaces such as Amazon and Ebay now held responsible for the compliance of sellers on their sites, companies face more scrutiny than ever. Some businesses have been threatened with suspension from trading on online sites until they can show proof of compliance.”

Valpak added that many companies are caught out when products included in a scheme represent only a small part of their business. For example, a fashion retailer may sell a small number of plant pots, or playing cards – items which fall under the new EPR for gardening equipment and toys.

Kate Loosmore said costs and data reporting requirements must be taken into account when planning. “At Valpak, we are seeing invoices for our international customers rise substantially,” she continued. “Reporting can also be complex and time-consuming – to give an idea of scale, Valpak calculations show that the time required for reporting under the UK’s Plastic Packaging Tax, EPR and the Deposit Return Scheme will rise by around 368% compared with current reporting.”