As far as this year’s glass packaging recovery notes (PRNs) are concerned, it is all over bar the shouting - and, of course, a great deal of money changing hands.
Hopefully, with the help of this injection of cash, there will be just about enough glass to go around. If not, we will find out what happens if targets are missed. The credibility of the entire PRN system will be in the balance.
After all, it is the responsibility of obligated companies not only to purchase sufficient PRNs to offset their obligation, but also to take appropriate action beforehand to ensure that there will be enough to do so. This is the reason why targets were increased slowly and announced so far in advance.
But how does this work on the ground? If we are struggling this year, what will we do once the huge stockpiles, currently being released due to the high PRN value, are gone? If we as a country are not actually recovering enough glass from the waste stream to meet the targets, what can obligated companies or their designated compliance schemes do?
The most important point is that we need more glass, and for this we would logically look at the collection method that produces the highest yield. If that method is commingled kerbside then, purely from a glass point of view, this system should be facilitated.
The revenue should in part be used to build plants that can process this poor quality material into beneficial end uses and explore new markets to absorb increased tonnage. In this way councils and their contractors can concentrate on the only thing that they can affect, collecting more tonnage from their constituents, and obligated companies can do the only thing that they can by providing enough money to make sure that the resulting glass can be recycled.
If this happens, then there will be sufficient PRNs and the price will ultimately fall back to normal levels.
Of course, other things can influence the PRN market next year. It seems likely that most companies will review their obligation in a downward direction.
And Government intervention cannot be ruled out. There is a whisper that the Environment Agency may, after six years, again allow PRNs to be issued on the glass content in recycled incinerator bottom ash.
If this happens, please ignore all of the above as the PRN will become worthless overnight. In fact, everyone can leave their glass in the waste bin and save us all a great deal of work.