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Producers call for greater PRN transparency

Packaging producers and experts have urged more disclosure on how reprocessors use the funding they receive through the Packaging Recovery Note (PRN) system.

The issue of PRN transparency was raised by Nick Brown, associate director for recycling at Coca-Cola Enterprises, at an event on packaging at the RWM Exhibition 2013.

Brown said producers put significant amounts of money into the PRN system but had little access to information on how the funding was used.

Angus Macpherson, managing director at the Environment Exchange (t2e), said that there was already an obligation for reprocessors to declare to the Environment Agency how they were spending those money, but it remained “a secret between themselves and the Agency”, although it was declared on a collective basis in the National Packaging Waste Database.

He said that greater transparency and more auditing of PRN data by the EA would be beneficial for the industry.

Ken Mulholland, environment and sustainability manager at catering supplier Brakes, said that more transparency was needed also to avoid possible market distortions. He suggested that reprocessors became obligated to reprocess only a set amount of materials.

“Reprocessors should have an obligation to reprocess certain quantities and not perhaps manipulate the market that is in fact what could happen,” he said.

Readers' comments (1)

  • Bernard Chase

    From the perspective of a UK reprocessor, as in a business that actually reprocesses waste here in the UK as opposed to merely trading it overseas to Europe or the Far East, this question always betrays a lack of understanding as to how the waste markets actually work.
    PRN 'value', derived by UK reprocessors, must always feed down into raw material pricing for if it didn't, the waste would merely flow to an export route that delivered a PERN.
    Should a UK reprocessor choose to retain PRN value to invest in new plant, and not use it to 'subsidise' their buying price, they would finish up with new plant but nothing to process as the material would simply flow to the more lucrative export route where the sales price is always subsidised by a PERN.
    This may appear a very simplistic view of what is in reality a very complex issue but the point remains that the current PRN system is fundamentally flawed, delivering both unintended consequences and commercially damaging outcomes. It is and has never been truly fit for purpose and requires immediate and deep seated reform.

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