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UK meets packaging recycling and recovery targets

The UK has met its packaging recycling and recovery targets, new figures show.

The Environment Agency has published the targets on the National Packaging Waste Database for quarter four of 2009. More than 1.86 million tonnes of packaging were recovered and recycled in Q4, meaning that the UK has met its targets.

Packaging Recovery Note (PRN) trading platform Environment Exchange managing director Angus Macpherson said that, contrary to initial expectations, targets had been met comfortably in 2009. He said there were two reasons for this.

The supply of PRNs in Q3 and Q4 had increased substantially, mainly on the back of export growth, and the level of obligation (demand) had shrunk significantly, by some 150,000 tonnes, which was below 2008 and anticipated levels, he said.

And a combination of reduced demand and increased supply has put a downward pressure on prices as the compliance year drew to an end, with the result that the market had already factored the Q4 figures into the price of 2010 PRNs currently trading through the exchange.
The PRN system works to support exporters and domestic reprocessors with funds to increase their collection capacity and infrastructure.

Valpak marketing director Duncan Simpson said that there should be a stable year ahead for glass but figures were slightly lower than the previous quarter.
British Glass recycling manager Rebecca Cocking added: From a UK point of view, it is encouraging that we have seen an increase in figures, although it has not been huge: it has only gone up by about 45,000 tonnes. From an industry point of view, we have seen further decline because of a lack of glass going into remelt and more going to aggregate, and the figures have gone to 2003 levels because of this.
An Environment Agency spokeswoman said: The UK has met its recycling and recovery targets for 2009, although the amount of glass recovered and recycled was slightly below target. This was due to a single organisation failing to fulfil its obligations since going into administration.

The aluminium recycling and recovery tonnage for Q4 at 6,867 tonnes was slightly lower than Q3 (9,816 tonnes). But Aluminium Packaging Recycling Organisation executive director Rick Hindley said: We had a very positive year last year and saw signs of significant growth which went beyond our expectations. The challenge now is to continue to maintain that growth.

There were concerns from the industry last year that the targets for steel would not be met but they have. Steel figures for Q4 were up by about 15,000 tonnes from Q3.

For Q4, 331,848 tonnes of paper was reprocessed in the UK compared with 291,403 tonnes in Q3. Simpson said this showed that paper had strong figures.
He said: Overall it shows that we appear to have overcome the worse period that occurred from October 2008. It shows the collection of material and recovery has performed strongly. This should be stable for the PRN system compared with the first two quarters of last year.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has set ambitious targets to recycle more than 70% of packaging waste by 2020 and to make the PRN system more transparent. Packaging waste Compliance Link director Edward Cooke said: It just shows you the folly of setting trading targets so far in advance. We sailed through last years target we actually crushed and destroyed them.

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