More accountability for how revenue generated by the packaging recovery note (PRN) system is spent is a factor in the future success of the PRN system, experts have agreed.
PRNs are effectively the currency used to ensure obligated businesses in the UK play their part in ensuring packaging materials are recycled.
Speaking at the CIWM conference in London last month (ahead of the referendum vote), Phil Conran, chair of the Advisory Committee on Packaging (ACP), conceded that some changes might be required.
The UK may look to extend producer responsibility (EPR) schemes for packaging if it adopts the European Circular Economy Package, it was suggested.
Delegates heard that while PRNs may not be “perfect”, they still offer value compared with other European packaging compliance systems.
Mr Conran said: “The mistake is to think the UK Packaging Regulations are environmental regulations. The packaging recycling industry has grown up around the PRN system and at the end of the day if we move to another system it would have quite a big impact.
“I think instead we need to find the right funding for collection systems, but compliance schemes would be looking to get their hands on the cheapest packaging they can. How we develop a system that creates accountable funding for local authorities I think is going to be a hugely complex process.”
The CIWM session was looking at whether Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) schemes might be better placed to support collections, reuse and recycling and stimulate changes in the manufacturing and retail sectors in the UK.
The European Commission had recommended that packaging producers cover “the entire cost of waste management” – a suggestion which is unlikely to fit with the UK’s PRN model.