Aluminium packaging recycling exceeds 2019 target

Written by: Maddie Ballard | Published:
Last year, 114,748 tonnes of aluminium packaging were collected for recycling

Provisional data released by the Environment Agency earlier this month shows that aluminium packaging exceeded its 2019 recycling target by more than 2,500 tonnes.

Last year, 114,748 tonnes of aluminium packaging were collected for recycling, outpacing the 112,200-tonne (61%) target.

The 2019 figure represents a 15% increase on that of 2018.

The data, which is due to be finalised in March 2020, shows that Q4 was the year’s strongest quarter and the highest ever reported, with approximately 34,000 tonnes of aluminium packaging recycled.

Last year’s success is hoped to provide a boost towards meeting 2020’s increased aluminium packaging recycling target (64%).

However, data released by the Environment Agency in 2019 suggested that many packaging recovery notes (PRNs), which provide evidence that waste packaging has been recycled into some other product, were being raised but not issued.

This led to inflated PRN prices – peaking at £500 per tonne – and undermining of aluminium’s credibility as an easily recyclable material.

At least 6,000 tonnes of recycled material were rendered surplus.

Rick Hindley, executive director at the Aluminium Packaging Recycling Organisation (Alupro), said: “It is excellent news that the target has been exceeded and the sustained growth of aluminium packaging recycling continues, but the data again clearly suggests that the aluminium PRN market has been distorted.

“The abnormally high PRN price has significantly impacted producers and once again brings into question the system itself.

“Aluminium is a sustainable material, yet the market distortion caused by organisations holding back PRNs in order to force prices to artificially high levels undermines the aluminium packaging industry.

“We are eager to see what additional investments to support further increases in aluminium packaging recycling and collection will result from the hugely increased revenues received by some aluminium recyclers and exporters last year.”

Alupro is aligned with the proposal for a compliance fee set out by the Advisory Committee on Packaging (ACP), which would offer businesses a compliance route while the producer responsibility system is reformed.

A joint industry letter sent to Defra last month also emphasised the concerns among food, drink, and packaging manufacturers about the impact of PRN price increases.

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