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PRN reform review slated for autumn

Defra has revealed to MRW that a long-awaited review of the PRN/PERN system will be taking place this autumn.

Such a review has been urged by the waste and recycling sector for the past two years, with many saying the current arrangements incentivise the export of waste materials.

Exporters are issued PERNs for 100% of the value of their exports, which may include contaminants, while domestic reprocessors are issued PRNs only on their output.

A Defra spokesperson confirmed the review structure: “There will be just one consultation on the Packaging Regulations in the autumn, which will take forward the outcome of the [producer responsibility] coherence review and also likely consider some tweaks to the PRN system.”

This statement puts to bed concerns over whether a review of the PRN system would be carried out in this Government term.

Labour opposition has already said it would tackle the imbalance in the PRN/PERN system. In an MRW Big Interview in May, shadow resource minister Gavin Shuker said: “It’s about creating a level playing field, which is why, if Defra ministers do not review it in this parliament, I’ll be reviewing it in Government.”

The Resource Association recently highlighted PRN/PERN reform in its submission to the coherence review, which closed in May: “We are obligated to again draw your attention to it [PRN/PERN reform], as the continued iniquity in the system discriminates against UK manufacturers of recycled plastics products.”

The problem was highlighted by industry non-executive director Paul Levett in 2011 who, as chair of Closed Loop Recycling’s non-executive advisory committee, said the PRN/PERN system had slowed expansion of high-quality plastic recycling facilities in the UK and was diverting green jobs abroad.

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