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Q1 PRN figures show interesting results for glass and plastic

Glass packaging recycling data in Q1 of 2011 has shown ‘disappointing’ figures for recyclers, while a fall in the amount of plastic packaging recycled year-on-year has surprised some industry insiders.

Published this morning (26 April) on the Environment Agency’s National Packaging Waste Database, preliminary packaging recovery  note (PRN) data shows 449,645 tonnes of glass packaging was recycled in Q1 of 2011. The previous year’s figure was 388,497 tonnes.

Environment Exchange senior market operator Tom Rickerby explained the high figure is a result of the bad weather at the end of 2010 hampering collections. He said: “The Q1 figures are pretty healthy. The Q4 figures were down on glass because of problems recycling as a result of the snow in December, so this has meant Q1 of 2011 is more buoyant.”

According to Recresco director Tim Gent, the new glass data  is “bad news” for recyclers because of the expected drop in glass PRN value. “I was expecting to see figures of 400,000 to 410,000 tonnes at the maximum, simply because we didn’t have any tonnage to carry over. It looks as though there is 40,000 tonnes in that figure that was meant to be in the Q4 figures for 2010, as the carry-over was only 12,000 when it is usually around 60,000.

“These high figures could effectively kill the glass PRN. It will be a struggle for it to maintain double figures. I don’t think it will collapse but there will not be an increase in price.”

An immediate reaction to the high glass PRN figure was seen on the Environment Exchange, which saw the price for glass PRNs drop from £11 to £10 per tonne.

However, some industry experts had expected the glass PRN tonnage figure to be higher than it was, which they believe could point to a tight year for the material.

Plastic packaging recycling has come in at 140,090 tonnes for Q1, which is around 20,000 tonnes less than the Q1 figure for 2010 (159,970 tonnes). Scrap Ex director of markets Gareth Goodall put this down to  less demand on the export market: “Chinese buying interest on plastics has been down over the last couple of months. Less Asian plastic export demand has resulted in less packaging export recovery notes (PERNs). I think some Chinese buyers have been uneasy about buying materials at the high levels we have seen this year and have been waiting for markets to cool. Others are cautious about inflationary pressures within the Chinese economy.”

Rickerby added: “Two large reprocessors are still to submit data but it is still a bit low. There has been a big growth in plastic recycling capacity on the domestic market which has shifted material from the export market. This will therefore see a decrease in the amount of PERNs issued and may see it be a bit tight to reach the plastic obligation for 2011.”

The Environment Exchange saw the plastic PRN gain 25p when the results were published, up from £3.25 per tonne.

Q1 PRN figures for 2010 and 2011


Paper composting862583
Wood Composting213180
Total Recycling1,640,0841,636,564


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