What could Extended Producer Responsibility mean for charity retail?

The Westminster, Welsh and Scottish Governments are all actively exploring ideas for Extended Producer Responsibility schemes. These schemes would see producers pay a levy on new products that are within the scheme. This would create a national fund that would be used to support reuse and recycling activity.

I recently attended a stakeholder advisory group meeting at the UK Government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs where the possibility of Extended Producer Responsibility was debated. I made the point that charity retail is an existing network that is facilitating reuse but that sourcing sufficient donations was a challenge. Government at all levels could make it much easier for consumers to donate items to charity retail.

The funds raised by a Extended Produced Responsibility Levy could potentially be used for a wide range of measures that could assist charity retail. These might include:

  • assistance with the costs of collecting bulky furniture
  • assistance with the cost of introducing new collection points for donations
  • incentivising retailers to run take back schemes and then supplying these to charity retail
  • a financial reward for retailers and brands who donate customer returns and overstock to charity retail
  • assistance with costs associated with sorting donations
  • marketing campaigns to encourage consumers to donate items instead of putting into landfill
  • incentives for producers to design durable products that are better suited to reuse

These ideas are at an early stage across the UK. Enacting these changes would require new legislation which means the earliest an Extended Producer Responsibility Scheme could be introduced is 2023. Textiles and bulky furniture are both strong candidates for Extended Producer Responsibility Schemes.

Currently, France is the only country with an active Extended Producer Responsibility Scheme covering the textile industry. A report from WRAP suggested that if the UK adopted a scheme for textiles with the same fees as in France this would create a UK fund in the region of £35 million. The new money could then be used for a whole range of initiatives to promote the reuse and recycling of textiles.

Jonathan Mail
Head of Public Affairs
Charity Retail Association