Packaging pressure on plastics

Posted on 2nd November, 2015

The UK’s unique packaging waste accounting system using the packaging waste recovery note (PRN) continues to cause exasperation in some sectors.Poker game

This time it is the plastics PRN which is attracting attention with expectations that the price for a PRN, which represents the recycling of one tonne of material, could move towards £100 a tonne before the end of the year.

In contrast, it is all smiles in the aluminium packaging sector as those involved have finally got their act together and registered under the scheme to allow for more aluminium to be recorded as recycled.

The current and likely situation for the rest of the year was reflected in third quarter packaging waste data published in mid-October by the Environment Agency.

Third quarter packaging waste data published this week shows increased pressure on the plastics packaging sector in contrast to glass, which looks set to meet its 2015 recycling target with relative ease.

Poker game

Stuart Foster, chief executive of RECOUP remarked that “the unnecessary annual game of plastic PRN poker between the sellers and buyers will commence now Q3 2015 data has been published.”

The provisional data, said RECOUP, shows that 197,249 tonnes of plastics packaging were recycled in Q3 which equates to 61% or 120,664 tonnes being exported, while around 39% or 76,585 tonnes stayed in the UK for recycling.

Mr Foster added: “As anticipated, the provisional Q3 data shows reported plastic packaging recycling tonnage was down when compared to the previous quarter. It will cast some doubt over the achievability of the 2015 target and almost certainly lead to speculation on further plastic PRN increases to the end of the year.

“The fact that significant PRN tonnage from 2014 was carried over to 2015 will provide a cushion, but it is almost certain that cushion will not be there for 2016 as plastic packaging recycling targets increase by another 5%. For the benefit of everyone, we need to see some changes to the way the current system works.”

However, no major changes to the PRN system are expected. Also last month, the chairman of the Advisory Committee on Packaging confirmed that the government saw no reason for any significant changes to the current system.