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Aluminium recycling 'way behind' where it needs to be

The latest Packaging Recovery Note (PRN) figures show that aluminium is struggling to meet recycling targets.

The Q2 figure is more than 6,000 tonnes lower than where it needs to be, and follows a 3,000-tonne shortfall in Q1. For the first half of the year, the figure is 20% down.

Phil Conran Jan 2015

Phil Conran, director at consultancy 360 Environmental, left, said aluminium was the poorest PRN performer.

“The reasons are the continued lack of incinerator bottom ash (IBA) protocol accreditation and reduced demand [for recycled aluminium] in the UK because one of the big reprocessors has had less requirement in Q2,” he said.

Following protocol changes, which came into effect at the beginning of 2015, aluminium packaging contributed by scrap metal dealers was discounted from the recycling figures.

The quantities produced from IBA were then included in the total to help compensate.

But in April, Rick Hindley, executive director of Alupro, said that the reported figures for aluminium recycling in IBA were distorted because the industry was failing to register for accreditation and that the relevant agencies were slow to accept registration.

 Waste accepted or exported (tonnes)Quarterly obligations Q2 2015 (tonnes)
Glass remelt254,944258,686
Glass other119,915132,646


Conran also said that the value of the aluminium PRN was so low that many shied away from the administrative burden of the accreditation process.

“When you compare that to the value of the material, it doesn’t really make a difference to the people who are buying it,” he said.

Chris Taylor, commercial manager at Clarity Environmental, said that aluminium was “way behind where it needed to be” and that it would not meet end of year obligations if trends continued.

“The whole market for PRNs has been shut down – hardly any aluminium has been traded on the open market because no buyers want to commit to what the sellers are looking for,” he said.

Taylor was more upbeat on plastic, glass and steel which he described as “very comfortable”.

Although the recovery figure was said to be poor, it would be covered by the other grades such as paper and wood by the end of the year.

Alupro is funding a research project to quantify the amount of aluminium that is recycled but does not pass through the PRN system.

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