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Environment Agency publishes monthly packaging figures

The Environment Agency has published monthly packaging recycling figures in a move described by industry analysts as promoting better understanding of trends and greater transparency.

The monthly breakdown of packaging data comes at the same time as the EA published consolidated quarterly figures. The EA said it had decided for transparency reasons to publish the data monthly, with a spokeswoman indicating it was seeking to help businesses by making available the most up-to-date information possible.

Monthly data can be useful to better detect and understand trends in reprocessing and exporting, according to Phil Conran, director at consultancy 360 Environmental.

“Monthly figures can show some additional information that could be masked in quarterly reports,” Conran told MRW.

For example, he noted that while Q2 data for glass reprocessing had suggested the material was on track to meet the annual 81% recycling target, the latest data painted a less positive picture (see graph top).

“June saw a big slump in melt activity, suggesting that April and May were artificially high, possibly bolstered by stockpiling from Q1,” said Conran.

“This would tend to indicate that Q3 is likely to be closer to 360,000-370,000 tonnes than the average of 430,000 per quarter needed to meet the targets,” he added.

Plastics Q2 Month Phil Conran

Plastics packaging figures, 360 Environmental

On the other hand, monthly figures for plastic exports seemed to be brighter than the already-optimistic data for Q2.

Plastic exports suffered significant decline in March, coinciding with the start of China’s Green Fence crackdown on low quality material imports, said Conran.

“But the graph (above) shows a strong climb in exports [in later months] as new markets appear to have been found to compensate for the Green Fence constraints.

“If we continue around the 60k tonnes per month level - the average achieved in the second half of 2012 - then the 2013 target will be easily met.”

Increased market transparency

Monthly figures also helped create a more transparent market place, Tom Rickerby, analyst at t2e, told MRW. They highlighted the relationship between PRN prices and reprocessing and exporting of materials, and this would reassure producers, he said.

Plastics PERN prices escalated rapidly between March and June, as they went from an average of £19 per tonne to £60 per tonne, and this coincided with a big improvement in plastics exporting, said Rickerby.

Conran said the new monthly figures may have been prompted by regular demands from himself and compliance schemes for the data through Freedom of Information (FoI) requests.

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