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Defra backs PRN system

A review by Defra of the packaging obligations on producers has concluded that the system of packaging recovery notes (PRNs) is meeting EU requirements and should be retained.

The post-implementation review (PIR) was required under the 2007 producer responsibility obligations, updated in 2012.

Defra says targets have been met and concluded: “Our review found the regulations continue to ensure the UK meets the requirements of the Packaging Directive and at a relatively low cost to businesses. For these reasons, we recommended to keep the regulation.”

The report said that three amendments to the regulations introduced since 2012 have had limited impact on businesses. These include:

  • Changes to compliance reporting systems under the Red Tape Challenge review – 2013
  • Altered glass and plastic packaging targets – 2014 and 2015
  • Targets for paper, steel, aluminium and wood and overall recycling/recovery rates – 2016

The PIR was approved with some qualification by the Regulatory Policy Committee, which provides external, independent scrutiny of regulatory and deregulatory proposals.

The committee said the review would have benefitted from summaries of the impact of the regulations on business and more detail over Defra’s claim that the regulations had not brought unintended consequences.

Defra holds quarterly meetings with regulators and the independent Advisory Committee on Packaging (ACP) to discuss the functioning and impact of the regulations.

ACP chair Phil Conran welcomed the PIR and said another issue for discussion was what will happen after Brexit.

”This review indicates the system we have is to stay to 2020. We will obviously have to consider where we go after then, and it is not clear yet whether the circular economy package with higher recycling targets will be in force or not.”

Readers' comments (2)

  • So, those exporting recyclables with 15% contamination can continue to claim 100% PERN. It would have been brave for the review to have removed this unintended cap sequence as it would have reduced the UK's recycling rate. So we will reach 50% in form if not in substance.

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  • The PRN system may meet EU requirements but its not working and subject to fraud. This sounds like a political decision!

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