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Defra seeks advice from metal industry on changes to PRN system

Metal recyclers and compliance schemes are concerned that packaging recovery notes (PRNs) could be issued twice on the same material when new end-of-waste criteria come into force in October, a Government consultation has reported.

The document from Defra, Adoption of the EU End-of-Waste Regulations for Ferrous and Aluminium Scrap, aims to gather information on how the legislation will affect the PRN system. It is believed that, originally, Defra did not think the end-of-waste criteria would have an impact on the system. But in a letter to stakeholders last month, it said that scrap metal may now cease to be waste before it reaches accredited reprocessors, which means the material is no longer considered packaging waste and PRNs therefore cannot be issued against it.

In the consultation report, stakeholders have already raised issues that because of the additional point of issue for metal PRNs, through the material recognised as waste versus that which is non-waste, it “increases the opportunity for fraud in the system. PRNs could be issued on the same load at multiple points as it passes through the processing chain”. This is referred to as ‘double-counting’.

This could also happen when metal that has ceased to be waste is later mixed with waste material, which is then issued PRNs also covering the metal content.

There is also industry concern that the sector will not meet its packaging recovery obligation, despite recovering the same amount of material. This is because PRNs cannot be issued on metal that meets that end-of-waste criteria and is no longer classed as waste.

Suggestions were made that revenue from the PRN system should go to fewer operators with higher levels of funds to invest in order to achieve higher levels of investment in increasing recycling and recovery infrastructure. But it was recognised that collection is key to increasing recycling and recovery, and it is important those involved in this part of the chain have access to funds.

Interested parties have until 24 June to comment on any operational risks that will be caused by the EU legislation.

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