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Councils make fresh attempt to grab PRN cash

Councils are stepping up attempts to grab a slice of the cash generated by the Packaging Recovery Notes (PRN) system, ahead of a crucial report expected next month.

The Local Government Association has called for some of the cash generated by the sale of PRNs to be handed to councils to fund the estimated £220m of new infrastructure required to hit the tough packaging targets confirmed in the Budget.

Prices of plastic PRNs - sold by accredited reprocessors and exporters to manufacturer-funded producer responsibility compliance schemes - are expected to soar in the wake of steadily increasing targets for 2013 to 2017.

An LGA spokesman told MRW: “According to the Government’s own figures, upgrading the collection and sorting capacity to meet the targets will cost £220m.

“We are asking that councils be allowed to access some of the money generated through the PRN system in order to finance new capacity. We are also calling for a more transparent system so we can all see where the money goes.” 

The call comes ahead of the Advisory Committee on Packaging’s (ACP) annual report, which councils chiefs expect to outline how different parts of the supply chain can contribute to hitting the higher targets.  

“We are optimistic the ACP report will recognise the crucial role local government plays in the supply chain,” the spokesman said.    

Phil Conran, director of consultancy 360 Environmental and former member of the ACP, warned that the LGA’s demands would be tough to satisfy.

“There is a perception that the PRN system raises millions for reprocessors and that councils are not getting their hands on their share. It does not work like that.

“The PRN revenue tends to trickle down in the value of the material and either councils get additional revenue or their contractor who has taken the risk on that value does.”

While there is no desire at government level to brush away the PRN all together, officials have indicated a substantial shake up of the detail is on the cards.

MRW understands Defra plans to consult next year on plans for fresh regulations to be introduced in 2014 aligned with new waste electrical and electronic equipment guidelines. 

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