The Confederation of Paper Industries (CPI) has “serious concerns” about the future of the paper Packaging Waste Recovery Note (PRN) and Packaging Waste Export Recovery Note (PERN) market and has identified significant over-declarations within the export side of the system.
It says it has been monitoring apparent data gaps between PRNs and PERNs declared through the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations 1997 (As amended) and those perceived to be available through CPI Mill returns and HM Revenue and Customs export data for the last three years.
Figures the CPI has examined show that in 2005 the apparent declaration of exported UK paper packaging waste appeared to be about 200,000 tonnes — or 22% - more than its calculated availability.
This fuels allegations of the fraudulent issuing of PERNs, an issue the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) announced it would start investigating in June 2005 following similar investigations into the wood and plastics reprocessing sectors.
The CPI warned that with the growth in export of UK paper packaging waste to Far East markets and the decline in domestic demand, any variance in the export system will have a growing impact on the overall producer responsibility system for paper packaging.
“Any declarations against non-UK paper packaging drives down the PRN/PERN value to the disadvantage of legitimate domestic reprocessors and exporters,” the CPI said.
It also expressed concern at the “excessive time delay” of the outcome of Defra’s investigation, leading it to “reluctantly conclude that Government is showing little resolve in tackling the problems”.
CPI recovered paper sector manager Peter Seggie said: “CPI has been aware of the apparent discrepancies of declaration data against available data for a number of years and has asked Defra to look at the situation in detail for the sake of reprocessors and exporters within the system, and to ensure a sustainable future market for paper PRNs and PERNs.
“CPI awaits the findings of the paper packaging fact finding mission with interest.”