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Q1 packaging figures reveal early concerns

Packaging recycling could be set for another volatile year according to figures for the first quarter of the year.

Continuing last year’s concerns about glass targets, the Q1 numbers show that glass recycling was down 10% on this time last year, with glass remelt figures at their lowest for three years.

According to the figures from the Environment Agency, 160,000 tonnes of glass remelt waste was accepted for UK reprocessing in the first quarter of 2013, with around 62,000 for export. The overall figure for glass was 327,000. This compares to 363,000 over the same period the previous year.

However, the development of any concerns due to the first quarter figures are likely to remain muted until obligation figures are released in May on the National Packaging Waste Database. Obligation data sets out how much PRN evidence producers must purchase, based on how much packaging waste has been placed on the market in a given year. 

Chris Taylor, PRN trader for Clarity Environmental, said: “We expect suppliers to continue to command high prices for their evidence moving forward, and buyers will hope that the national obligation has come down substantially to help ease prices.”

“The buyers we have spoken to are suggesting that on the whole their glass obligations have come down compared to last year, but we would have to witness a very large drop for glass to look comfortable on the available evidence. Right now it’s a waiting game, a strong theme in this industry at the moment.”

PRN analysts t2e said that glass remelt prices had risen from £55 to £60. Aggregate prices were up to £50 from £42.

T2e senior market operator Tom Rickerby said that although the glass figures could be cause for concern, it was early in the year: “It’s key that we see the demand data before we jump to any conclusions”.

Plastics warning

In Q1, just over 151,000 tonnes of plastic was recycled, up a little from 147,000 tonnes the previous year, according to the EA figures.

But Phil Conran of consultancy 360 Environmental sounded a note of caution, saying that an average of 165,000 tonnes for the rest of the year could be needed to meet the new plastics targets.

T2e reported plastic prices moving northwards to £37.50 on the spot market.

Taylor said that the figures were stronger than expected but were unlikely to reflect new quality standards being enforced by the Chinese “Green Fence” policy until the next quarter’s data.

Steel strong, wood weak

Taylor said that steel prices were expected to come down after stronger than expected recycling levels, at 107,000 tonnes, up from 94,000 a year before.

Meanwhile wood recycling has dropped to its lowest in 12 years at 112,000 tonnes.

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