Interim Q3 2020 packaging figures show UK is on track

The interim Q3 recycling figures released by the Environment Agency shows the UK is well on track to meet this year’s recovery and recycling targets

The newly released figures detail a very positive result for the third quarter of 2020 and easily achievable targets for the remainder of the year.

The table below shows estimated gross and net requirements for 2020. It also shows the carry-in tonnage reported earlier in the month, which is the amount of PRNs produced in December 2019 that are issued for 2020 use. The total amount of carry-in PRNs has increased in comparison to the previous year, particularly in paper, aluminium and steel.

You will see from the table below that all materials are performing well against the recycling targets, showing a surplus in all materials:


What does the data mean for producers?

Despite the uncertainty faced by all businesses this year and the impact of an economic downturn, the waste industry has remained quite resilient to the impact of COVID-19. The unverified Q3 recycling data shows that all materials are performing ahead of the individual recycling targets.

As we continue into the final quarter of the compliance year, the above data shows that even if the UK enters more periods of lockdown, there is very little risk of non-compliance in 2020.


Paper - low risk

Paper packaging

Paper has reported its strongest quarter this year and despite a slow start to the year, paper recycling has significantly increased during Q3 and has met 94% of its annual target.

China has always had a strong demand for waste paper and as from January 2021 China will no longer be importing OCC, there is a slight risk that we will see a slowdown in Q4, although this does not compromise our compliance position for 2020.


Glass - low risk

glass packaging

Glass has performed exceptionally well all year despite concerns that the recycling target may not be met during lockdown. The data shows that glass aggregate has remained strong during lockdown due to the increase of post-consumer packaging collected in the municipal waste stream.

Glass has achieved 83% of its recycling target three quarters of the way through the year and any risk of a national/local lockdowns will not affect the supply of this material.


Aluminium - low risk

Aluminium packaging

Aluminium has reported another exceptional quarter and has already met 98% of its annual target. Evidence generated from incinerator bottom ash has supported the supply of PRNs this year and ensured the UK remains ahead of its annual target. Aluminium is due to have a strong carry out of PRNs into 2021.


Steel - low risk


Steel is another material that has remained unaffected by the impact of lockdown. Although the industry shutdown at the start of Q2, recycling rates have remained strong all year.

The release of the Q3 data shows that 94% of its annual target has been met and any excess of PRNs will be used to meet the general recycling target.


Plastic - low risk

plastic packaging

Despite the concerns raised at the beginning of Q2 this year, that the UK may see a reduction in plastic recycling, the Q3 data shows that this has not been the case. Supply has remained strong all year and this has been demonstrated by the UK meeting 88% of its annual target in plastic by the end of Q3.

The September data showed a significant drop in the recycled volumes but even if the reduction of plastic recycling continues into Q4 it is highly unlikely that compliance will not be met. 


Wood - low risk


The wood sector was hit the hardest during lockdown, but the release of the Q3 data shows that the sector has made a full recovery and is on track to exceed its annual recycling target.

There is very little risk that the wood recycling target will not be met despite the threat of HWRCs closing, should a national lockdown be imposed.


Looking ahead

Ecosurety will continue to communicate the changes in the PRN market throughout the remainder of the year. As supply is looking exceptionally strong, the UK is very much on track to meet and exceed recycling targets for 2020.

If you would like to speak to a member of the Ecosurety team about the impact of compliance on your business, please contact us on 0333 4330 370.

Find out more about how Ecosurety works hard to make a positive impact on UK recycling.

Sandeep Attwal

Group procurement manager

Sandeep works in the role of Group procurement manager. Sandeep builds and maintains strategic relationships with our key service partners for packaging, batteries and WEEE, whilst creating new relationships and initiatives to improve UK recycling. Sandeep has over 17 years’ experience of the regulations and understands the challenges and opportunities that can arise from volatile markets.

Written by Sandeep Attwal Published 26/10/2020 Topics Packaging
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