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Packaging recycling increases in 2016 provide a stable start to 2017

The UK is on course to meet its packaging recycling targets for 2016, with nearly a 7% increase in recycling compared to 2015.

Confirmed with the release of provisional data on the Environment Agency’s NPWD website, it is welcome news with political uncertainty dominating the environmental agenda in recent times. While final figures are due next month, the early indications are that the first quarter of 2017 will see largely stable PRN (packaging waste recovery note) prices across most materials.

A year-on-year increase in plastic recycling of 13.7% is particularly positive news as PRN prices can be volatile in this material, especially when demand outstrips supply. The information suggests that a significant amount of “transitional” plastic tonnage, recycled in December 2016, will be carried forward to cover 2017 obligations, softening supply.

PRN system is delivering value

The Advisory Committee on Packaging (ACP) were quick to point out that recycling increases are proof that the PRN system is delivering value in the UK. Although the potential for market volatility and the lack of PRN transparency remains, packaging recycling continues to increase in the UK.

Figure 1 below shows increases in recycling across all materials when comparing 2016 to 2015. So while there have been calls for legislative reform from the Green Alliance and ESA (Environmental Services Association), the data is another indication to the government that the system is fit for purpose.

2015 vs 2016 packaging recycling

Stay informed

To keep up to date with the latest recycling figures and how they influence your compliance costs, please book your place on our free Q2 packaging compliance commercial update webinar, taking place on 20 April. 

If you would like to discuss your packaging compliance with our team, please contact us on 0333 4330 370 or email info@ecosurety.com.


Robbie Staniforth

Innovation and policy director

Robbie is innovation and policy director at Ecosurety. Having spent years building an intimate understanding of the industry’s policies and politics, he uses this knowledge to help shape new legislation and oversees Ecosurety’s growing portfolio of cross-industry innovation projects including Podback and the Flexible Plastic Fund. He has worked closely with Defra during the most recent packaging consultations, outlining the impacts and required transitional arrangements of the UK’s new EPR system and is a member of the government’s Advisory Committee on Packaging (ACP). He is also a spokesperson for the company and regularly uses his influence to communicate the importance of environmental responsibility to external stakeholders.


Written by Robbie Staniforth Published 14/02/2017 Topics Compliance

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