The latest packaging recycling data shows that plastic is performing well and likely to hit its 2017 target, despite the current market uncertainty because of tighter Chinese quality regulations.
The latest returns from the Environment Agency for Q3 show that the plastic tonnage reported was 274,010, meaning only 168,581 tonnes is required in Q4.
Final totals for Q3 will be firmed up in November when all processors and exporters will have submitted reports.
360 Environment Q3 2017 plastic packaging
A graph produced by 360 Environmental shows the relative volumes of UK reprocessing and export for plastic, with the levels being maintained.
Director Phil Conran said: “For exports, it would seem that there was a general clearing out of stock before the problems caused by the Chinese restrictions really began to bite, so the uncertainty going forward is how this will affect Q4.
“But given that, in Q2, we know that only 38,000 tonnes went to China, it suggests that this year’s target for plastic will be met easily.”
Conran said glass had been a concern, with Q1 and Q2 being tight against target, but Q3 had put the material on a much stronger footing.
Ian Andrews, director of PRN Trader, also noted the improvement in the glass totals and the growth in plastic: “The positive news is that the evidence note subsidy has done its job in firming up supply during the quarter.”
He said plastic PRN prices, earlier in the year at nearly £70, were now down to £35.
“Plastic prices continued to soften as more supply became evident. Sellers, who up to this point had been happy to hold tonnage, returned to the market seeking trading opportunities.
“Buyers confident that supply had recovered remained bullish on price and held out for best value, forcing a sizeable drop in value,” he added.
Andrews said Q3 was the most important reporting period because it gave strong indications of likely trends in the coming year.