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Glass seemed to have suffered under the packaging recovery note (PRN) system when figures for quarter one of 2010 were released last month. Looking at the material on a year-on-year basis, PRNs issued for glass had dropped by 53,742 from Q1 of 2009 to Q1 of 2010. This meant that 2009’s figure of 224,448 fell to 170,706 this year.

British Glass felt this was because local authorities did not see glass as a priority material because it does not create the money that other materials might, so there is not much emphasis on sorting and collecting quality cullet for reprocessors. This meant that PRNs have dropped and the value is thought to have decreased in line with this.

During the past month, the election of the new coalition Government prompted concern in some aspects of the organics industry and excitement in others. The Conservative-Liberal Democrat manifesto set out plans to promote a “huge increase in energy from waste through anaerobic digestion”, which has led to a flurry of activity in the AD industry. The chairman of the Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Association told MRW that planning remains an issue for new facilities, but the Government’s commitment to give more planning powers to local neighbourhoods and councils may work in favour of the facilities.

There was huge concern expressed by the Renewable Energy Association (REA) that the Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs) would be scrapped in favour of a more rounded Feed-In Tariff (FIT) system. The REA was particularly anxious about whether facilities already in the pipeline and planned on the basis of the ROC system would be grandfathered if FITs were to become the main incentive scheme for renewable energy. If the facilities were not grandfathered then investment in those facilities could be lost, forcing them to be abandoned.

UK plastic bottle reprocessors and experts from the European plastic industry PlasticsEurope used the aftermath of the election as an opportunity to voice their gripes over the amount of plastic bottles leaking to export in China. According to the experts, there is a plastic bottle shortage in Europe which is being exacerbated by the export trade of plastic bottles to China. Closed Loop Recycling managing director Chris Dow said such exports were a “threat to the UK’s infant recycling industry”. He added that the UK’s PRN system must be reviewed by the new Government because he believes it supports the shipment of materials overseas.

The Bureau of International Recycling (BIR) plastics committee chairman said that European plastic recyclers had become “over-reliant” on exports to China. France had also experienced a shortage in PET bottle volumes, with not enough being available to meet demand. But they said no significant price fluctuations were anticipated for plastic scrap exports to China during June.

PlasticsEurope also spoke of its concern over new legislation which could mean that PVC cannot be used in the manufacture of electronic products. The European Parliament’s Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee has proposed to recast the Restriction of the Use of certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations 2008 (the RoHS Directive) to phase out PVC because the committee deemed the material to have “hazardous” properties.

PlasticsEurope criticised the proposal and accused the committee of “scaremongering”, saying there should be more joined up thinking in this subject as the European Commission’s own regulations regarding hazardous materials (REACH regulations) do not class PVC as hazardous. If the regulation were to come into force, it would mean that electronic equipment manufacturers would have to find an alternative material, significantly reducing the need for PVC or waste PVC.

At a meeting of textile recyclers organised by BIR’s textile recycling commission, the UK’s Textile Recycling Association president Gerald Cemmell stressed the need for improved sorting and the necessity to keep textiles segregated from other waste when collecting from householders to raise the quality of the material. He also spoke of the increasing interest from major retailers in promoting recycling and over who is operating textile collection banks on their sites.

Although textile prices remain high, European recyclers are uneasy because African customers continue to open letters of credit but are not necessarily fulfilling their part of the deal. And China has been sending new synthetic material to Africa, causing prices to be squeezed for the second-hand material as it tries to compete. India is also refusing to accept market-driven price increases from European suppliers.


Merchants have reported quiet yards in the past month, with Turkey and Greece pulling out of the export market and Spain not expressing any interest. This left traders to predict that prices were set to fall further when steelworks set the prices at the beginning of June. South Wales reported a £40 drop for OA heavy structural and plate since the beginning of April. Furthermore, road haulage rates have increased because of the rise in the price of diesel.

Traders were impatient for the price changes, which are traditionally set by the steelworks at the beginning of the month. But when prices did come in a little later than usual, they confirmed traders’ predictions of a £15-£20 drop in value across the grades. Yards are fearful that prices are not likely to rise until at least September now the summer slowdown is approaching.

According to the Financial Times, copper is now at an eight-month low as demand fell with uncertainty over the global economy. In fact, all materials plummeted during the month, with some grades experiencing a 10% decrease towards the middle of June. But one white metals merchant commented that prices are now realistic in comparison with the recent highs.

Results from the European Aluminium Association found that aluminium drinks can recycling has increased to 63% across Europe. The UK has a recycling rate of 51% and ranks at 13 in the EU27. Alupro executive director Rick Hindley said the figures show a good amount of growth, but when UK figures are published later this year the recycling rate will show even more progress. With a 96% recycling rate, Germany came top of European aluminium drinks can recyclers, while Romania and Bulgaria came last with 34%.

Aluminium ingots, however, have witnessed a collapse in the export market. Demand from the UK remains strong but, due to oversupply, prices have slipped and further falls are expected in the coming weeks.

Biomass continues to divide the wood waste industry as board manufacturers complain of significantly increased prices as the markets vie for material. Wood PRN values are also extremely low, leading many board manufacturers to almost abandon the scheme. In better news for the biomass sector, a survey by KPMG found that biomass facilities have become as attractive for investors as wind and solar facilities. But securing finance and feedstock for the facilities remain two major obstacles for the plants.


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