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Changes to aluminium protocol take the pressure off recyclers

The protocol for aluminium packaging recovered from incinerator bottom ash (IBA) has been revised.

Defra has implemented three alterations to the existing protocol which can be applied retrospectively from 1 January 2015 or the date at which the reprocessor/exporter originally applied for accreditation.

The changes should provide a more accurate reflection of the proportion of aluminium that is being recovered and recycled following concerns from recycling body Alupro that the current packaging recovery note (PRN) system was undermining recycling data.

A minimum of 70% of the mixed non-ferrous metals recovered from IBA are now considered to arise from aluminium packaging.

This follows detailed studies of tested samples which showed the original 50% specification was under-representing recycled tonnages.

In addition, some metal reprocessors under the previous system were applying the 50% figure to the aluminium fractions that had been recovered from mixed ferrous metals.

Exporters or UK recyclers of aluminium recovered in this way will now be able to issue export PRNs (PERNs) based on 87.5% of the total recovered aluminium fraction.

The new protocol also recognises the aluminium present in zorba grade exports. These are the tonnages produced by metal processors that take recovered IBA non-ferrous and mix it with metal from other sources.

In these situations, metal processors are permitted to issue a 70% PERN on the incoming weight of the recovered IBA material.

In addition to these changes, Defra issued a statement on 21 August urging producers to comply with their packaging recycling and recovery obligations. It is also allowing operators to issue PRNs or PERNs from the moment they seek to be accredited rather than when accrediation is approved.

 Rick Hindley

In April, Rick Hindley, executive director of Alupro, left, said the then IBA protocol was partly responsible for poor aluminium recycling figures.

Commenting on the earlier changes, Hindley told MRW: “It is a positive step. We had been telling Defra that the current system wasn’t working for some time now, and seeing the latest figures for Q2 came as no surprise.

“Whether the changes will be enough, we honestly don’t know. We are optimistic that they could make a difference; some people who could be accredited for reasonable volumes are not yet signed up.

“Defra is, however, operating within the realms of the current regulations, so that limits to an extent what it can do. The volume of material is there so now, ultimately, the compliance schemes need to help find people to get accredited.”

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