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Simpler PRN system expected for 2016

A simpler accreditation process for the Packaging Recovery Note (PRN) system is expected be introduced from 2016, according to the Advisory Committee on Packaging (ACP).

MRW exclusive

ACP chairman Phil Conran, below, hopes that the changes will encourage more reprocessors and exporters to register for the system, which will boost the number of PRNs on the market and provide the Government with a more accurate picture of UK packaging recycling.

“The ACP continues to make progress on a number of fronts with some excellent work being done by its members,” said Conran

“We should see a much simpler and fairer accreditation process for 2016 for reprocessors and exporters.”

The committee’s technical liaison group wants the Environment Agency (EA) to allow accreditation without sampling, which could result in lower fees for companies interested in getting accredited.

There will also be changes applied in the new year that will allow UK reprocessors to “click on a renew button” for their 2015 accreditation to be automatically carried into 2016.

However, this will only be available to reprocessors that have had no changes to their process, sampling and inspection plans.

Phil Conran Jan 2015

It is expected that exporters will also be able to renew their accreditation automatically, although non-EU sites deemed “broadly equivalent” to those meeting EU criteria would still need to be assessed annually.

Concerns have also been raised about aluminium PRNs which have significantly underperformed in the past two quarters.

This has been largely blamed on new protocols from January 2015 that no longer recognise the amount of aluminium packaging contributed by scrap metal dealers.

Although a new protocol has been developed to accommodate this, which considers 50% of non-ferrous material recovered from incinerator bottom ash as packaging, the reported tonnages do not cover the shortfall.

“Defra and the agencies are keen to ensure industry recognises that the Q1 and Q2 shortfalls [in aluminium] cannot be resolved through changing the regulatory goal posts,” said Conran.

“This clearly has the potential to add significant cost to obligated businesses. But there is no silver bullet, and schemes and producers need to recognise the need for urgent and concerted effort to identify new sources of unaccredited tonnage.”

The failure of aluminium reprocessors to apply for accreditation has been partially blamed on the low price of PRNs at the beginning of the year which sat at just £5-£6 (see table).

MonthAluminium PRN Price (£)


However, the resulting shortfall has caused the price to increase considerably to up to £40 each.

It is hoped this may encourage more reprocessors to get accredited, although the EA is reportedly not considering a backdating option which means any PRNs that would have been generated earlier in the year are now lost.

Conran also noted that the ACP hopes to implement a comprehensive website “that will vastly improve transparency on PRN spend”.

“We will soon have recommendations for any short-term measures that can be considered for the PRN system to help towards 2020,” he said.

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