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Q3 packaging data suggests targets on course to be met

By 24/10/2016News

Targets for the collection of packaging waste for recycling look likely to be met comfortably in 2016 – figures published for the third quarter of the year suggest, indicating that PRN prices across some materials could fall.

Data published on the government’s National Packaging Waste Database website late last week shows that tonnages collected for glass, aluminium, plastic and steel all are currently at levels required to meet targets set earlier in the year.

Paper packaging is among the highest performing material streams

Paper packaging is among the highest performing material streams for recycling

The latest data set, which covers the July to September period also indicates that enough paper and wood tonnages have been collected throughout the first nine months of the year to meet targets across the year.

This could mean that the value of packaging recovery notes (PRNs) for the two materials materials – which are purchased on behalf of packaging producers to fund the recycling of their products at the end of life – could be likely to fall towards the end of the year, with demand dropping.


Concerns had been raised about the potential for a shortfall in the steel packaging category, caused in part by the closure of some British steel mills in early 2016.

However, this appears to have had little effect on the recovery of packaging waste for recycling – with data showing that collections of material have remained strong throughout the year with 97,407 tonnes collected in the third quarter. Around 85% of the overall tonnage needed to meet the year’s steel recycling target has now been collected, the data suggests.


Plastics also registered a strong performance throughout the third quarter of the year – with 253,420 tonnes collected during the third quarter. Currently plastics remains on course to meet its target collection total of over 965,000 tonnes for the year – with around 79% of this material having been collected to date.


Commenting on the figures, Phil Conran, chair of the government’s Advisory Committee on Packaging, said that the data was broadly in line with expectations.

He said: “The only real surprise to me is that plastics wasn’t actually higher. The general view was that the weaker pound might mean an increase in exports but this has not been the case, but there might be some additional tonnage that flows through when the Agency checks the data.

“Plastics is perhaps where the biggest question mark hangs for next year. We have blown away this year’s targets, but plastic is a sort of material that reacts to the global changes in the market. Last year we thought that steel might a crisis material for this year – but that now looks like it is going to be easy going into next year.”

On any potential shift in PRN prices in the wake of the figures, Mr Conran added: “I can’t see them going up. I can see some of them shifting down. Steel is now sub £5 [having been close to £30 at the start of the year]. For plastic it is more difficult to say, but at some stage I am sure it will fall to a much lower level.”


Robbie Staniforth, commercial manager at compliance scheme ecosurety, added: “We’ve seen prices reduce through the course of 2016 and the figures released today are in line with our expectations. There’s very little to indicate that the UK will struggle to meet the targets set or that prices will move significantly in the last few months of the year. The biggest area of concern in the industry is how recyclers and producers can work more closely on where PRN revenues are spent, rather than the volume of recycling that is occurring.”

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Source: Plastic