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Defra confirms reform of PRN/PERN system

Resource minister Dan Rogerson has responded to calls to reform the producer responsibility regime to “even out disparity” between export and domestic reprocessing of materials.

A recent report from the all-party Associate Parliamentary Sustainable Resource Group urged Defra and the Environment Agency create parity between Packaging Recovery Notes (PRNs) and Packaging Recovery Export Notes (PERNs).

Dan Rogerson

Speaking at the launch of the report on 4 December, resource minister Dan Rogerson (left) said: “The report outlines stakeholder concerns at that lack of a level playing field – which is not news to me. The report sets out some of those issues and the pressures they feel.

“Officials in the department are actively pursuing the potential to make amendments to the PRN and PERN system to start to even out disparity.”

“We don’t want perverse incentives to push things out of the country that could be usefully used here. The Environment Agency is looking at some of the suggested changes and I hope to see some progress there.”

Rogerson said he had to be sure that any changes did not breach EU rules on competition.

The APRSG report suggested a ‘PRN offset’ principle to allow producers to offset from their packaging obligations the amount of recycled materials used in it. The proposal was put forward by the British Plastics Federation in May 2013.

Rogerson also noted that although waste exported and used for energy recovery abroad helped the balance of trade, it did not contribute to the UK’s renewable energy needs. He said the Government would explore the opportunities and the barriers for the expansion of the energy from waste sector in the country.

On 16 December Defra will hold a roundtable with local government representatives to discuss the issue.

“Although energy from waste development has to be driven by the sector itself we do recognise there is a role for government to facilitate that development by providing greater clarity on long-term policy direction,” said Rogerson.

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