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Amendments to packaging rules confirmed

Defra has confirmed it will change packaging regulations as part of the Government’s effort to reduce the impact of legislation on small companies

In the latest round of announcements related to the Government’s Red Tape Challenge initiative, the department said that from April 2015 more small businesses will be exempted from the Producer Responsibility Packaging Regulations.

Defra also pledged to “reduce the burdens” on small and medium-sized enterprises by simplifying administrative processes and aligning the three producer responsibility regimes (Packaging, WEEE and Batteries).

The proposals were first mentioned in a discussion paper published by Defra in April 2013.

It generated conflicting responses from the industry, with some supporting cuts in regulations and other concerned about the creation of loopholes in the system and loss of valuable data on packaging.

As part of the plan, Defra will also launch a consultation on removing the requirement for smaller distributors to take back waste batteries, and simplifying record keeping and reporting.

The measures were included in a document titled ‘Defra better for business: a strategic reform plan for Defra’s regulations’ (file right), which confirms plans for 336 regulatory reforms across the department.

According to Defra the changes are expected to save business £300m in total each year, or £1.5bn over five years – an increase on previously estimated savings of £1bn.

Environment secretary Owen Paterson said: “For the overwhelming majority of organisations behaving responsibly, I want to get out of their hair and let them get on with it.

“That is the best way of ensuring small businesses prosper, bringing security, jobs and growth. It also gives us in Government more time to focus on the ‘bad guys’, that small number who break the rules causing disproportionate harm.”

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