The director of a large glass reprocessor has warned that councils and MRF operators will pay the cost for the lower glass recycling target, and that PRNs should be scrapped.
Defra has recently announced the packaging target has been lowered from 81% to 75%, with an incremental rise to 77% in 2017. The split between applications has also amended, with remelt increased to 65% in 2014 and to 67% in 2017 from the current 63%.
Defra estimated that lowering the target will result in lost PRN revenue to processors of £106.9m over the four years to 2017. But Tim Gent, director at Recresco, suggested that amending the target will mainly affect collection and separation businesses, as they will experience lower prices for their glass.
“The PRN money was put into price subsidy, mostly. [The change in the target] does not really affect our company,” said Gent.
“Whilst PRNs were expensive, waste management companies and local authorities were receiving a higher value for the glass. On the back of this news, if the PRN price collapses, then the price of glass will collapse.
He added: “[The Government] has taken from local authorities and front-line collectors and given back to the producers.”
Gent said Defra’s decision to lower the target to 75% was a mistake and endangered the credibility of the entire PRN system. He suggested PRNs should be therefore be scrapped.
“The PRN system is doing more harm than good at this stage. It has ceased to be a benefit because of the instability that it has brought into the market place, if the Government can just step in and change [targets] on a whim and lobbying.”
He noted Defra had not considered increasing targets when the glass PRN had decreased sharply in the past, or for other materials such as paper that were experiencing very low PRN prices.