UK will miss recycling target without PRN intervention, warns Packaging Scheme Forum

Written by: Editorial staff | Published:

The UK may not reach its 2019 recycling targets due to a looming PRN supply crisis for plastic and aluminium.

That’s the view of the Packaging Scheme Forum (PSF), the industry body which represents compliance schemes in the UK, in a letter sent to Defra environment minister Thérèse Coffey.

The PSF wants to see a packaging compliance fee to provide reassurance if the UK fails to meet its recycling targets.

The letter details how China's National Sword policy meant the UK was forced to seek alternative markets for plastic recyclate exports, which has led to worries over capacity and environmental accreditation given the cases of contaminated waste exports over recent month.

The PSF predicts that this, plus price volatility in the market, means there will be insufficient plastic PRNs for compliance schemes and producers to meet their obligations.

A compliance fee, it argues, should be a fall-back position for schemes and producers which reach the end of the year and face the prospect of being prosecuted as non-compliant.

This would ensure funds are ‘ring-fenced’ and allocated to initiatives which improve UK recycling infrastructure and prevent actions against producers and compliance schemes and reduce unexpected price volatility.

A similar scheme can be found within the WEEE system.

Robbie Staniforth, PSF chair, said: “Without significant tweaks being made to stabilise the current PRN system, we run the risk of a large scale producer non-compliance at the end of 2019. This would be a costly situation for Defra to deal with- both at a reputational and financial level.”

PSF members include Biffa, Veolia, Ecosurety and Valpak.

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