Sebastian Munden Chair WRAP

Former Unilever boss and Wrap chair Sebastian Munden has been put in charge of a new industry group set up by Defra to help smooth the appointment of a scheme administrator for its controversial extended producer responsibility policy.

Munden, who became the chair of the climate change body in 2022, left Unilever last year having been a key figure in its efforts to cut plastic and packaging waste. He is among a raft of industry figures who will sit on the body, which will be in place until the formal administration body for the system comes into operation at the end of this year.

Also on the board are Aldi  buying director Luke Emery, Waitrose  packaging boss Karen Graley, and Nestlé packaging supremo Sokhna Gueye.

Executives from trade bodies including the FDF, the BRC and Incpen are also on the board,

In January, former OPRL managing director Margaret Bates was appointed as head of the UK EPR scheme, which will be a not-for-profit company helping business in an attempt to fund and manage a consistent UK-wide recycling policy.

Munden took charge of the Unilever businesses in 2017, and was described when he left by former Wrap boss Marcus Gover as “a champion for sustainability”.

The steering group he leads faces a tough task to rally the industry around EPR, which has been bedevilled with controversy, setbacks and policy u-turns.

Just two weeks ago, the BRC heavily criticised the plans, which it said would cost £2bn a year to run and fail to deliver. It called for funds to be “ringfenced” to fund cash-strapped local authority recycling operations.

The final scheme administrator, when it is appointed, will be responsible for the final setting of EPR fees and is due to be in place by October this year.

Like the steering group, the governance will be made up of producer/retailer representatives, waste management representatives, local government representatives and the environmental sector.

A Defra spokesman said: “The new UK EPR scheme will move the cost of dealing with packaging waste away from the taxpayer and on to packaging producers, who will pay for the full cost of managing packaging waste from households.

“Through the fees they pay, producers will be incentivised to use less packaging, to use packaging that can be recycled, and to meet higher recycling targets.

“This interim steering group will bring together representatives from across the sector to participate in the operational design, implementation and strategic direction of the scheme administrator for the extended producer responsibility for packaging scheme.

“We will use the industry experience, knowledge and skills of this group to build a world-class scheme for packaging which works for industry, local government and waste management and meets our shared environmental goals.”