Packaging exports in spotlight in TV documentary

Posted on 7th February, 2018

A television documentary questioning the viability of sending recovered plastics from the UK to South East Asia has prompted calls for the UK’s packaging waste regulations to be reviewed.

The Sky Atlantic documentary ‘Dirty Business’ highlighted some of the continued challenges faced by UK companies in exporting recyclable materials to the Far East, which has traditionally been a key market for recyclers in the UK.

This led to calls for a review of the Packaging Recovery Note system, which are used to ensure the UK’s responsibility to meet targets set by the European Union for the recycling of packaging are met and financed by producers.

Critics of the system have claimed that a disparity in the way that PRN system is applied gives an advantage to exporters of material.

It is alleged that while there is no difference in value between PRNs and PERNs, UK-based reprocessors can only claim the former against material that has been recycled, as opposed to all material in export bales, which includes contamination.

This issue was highlighted in the documentary, which interviewed the former Environment Secretary Lord Deben, who said: “PRN exports, that’s nonsense and we should change it.”

The programme concluded with an exclusive interview with Michael Gove who said that too much waste has been exported and that more should be processed within the UK.