Provisional figures show most packaging materials on course to reach 2019 targets
Provisional packaging data for the third quarter of 2019 shows that all packaging materials remain on track to meet their 2019 recycling targets, with strong recoveries from plastics and aluminium.
The provisional data for packaging recycled or exported between July and September 2019 was published yesterday (22 October) on the National Packaging Waste Database (NPWD), which collates packaging recycling and recovery information submitted by accredited reprocessors and exporters.
While all data is provisional until official figures are published by the Environment Agency at the start of next year, all materials continue to perform well against their net 2019 obligations, which include material carried over from 2018.
The 29,998 tonnes of aluminium was recycled in Q3, the strongest ever quarterly aluminium packaging recycling figures, while the total tonnage of aluminium packaging recycled so far in 2019 is up six per cent on 2018, with 81,296 tonnes recycled versus 76,582 tonnes last year.
Plastic has also recovered to 77.4 per cent of its net 2019 target, placing it comfortably ahead of where it needs to be after Q3 following a 7.5 per cent increase in material recycled or exported from Q2.
While recycling rates for aluminium and plastic packaging appear to have recovered, there remains concern about the high price of packaging recovery notes (PRN) – evidence generated by reprocessors which are then purchased by obligated companies as proof that their packaging has been recycled – for these materials, with the PRN price for both aluminium and plastics reaching as high as £450 in September. There had previously been concern that the market was failing due to high PRN prices for these materials with no corresponding rise in recycling.
Commenting on the figures, Rick Hindley, Executive Director of the Aluminium Packaging Recycling Organisation (Alupro), said: “We are optimistic, following a disappointing Q2, that this year’s target will be met and anticipate that there should be more than enough evidence to allow producers to meet their obligations. As a result, we expect the unjustifiably high PRN price will start to fall to more realistic levels. Historically, aluminium PRN prices have been below £30 per tonne, yet currently aluminium PRNs are trading on the spot market at around £450 per tonne.
“While aluminium is now in a positive position, we continue to urge the government to make short-term changes to the PRN system, pending the reform of producer responsibility system, to ensure that PRN prices stabilise at a realistic level and to ensure that monies raised through the system are invested to boost recycling levels as intended.”
Phil Conran, Director at 360 Environmental, added: “The data indicates that for all materials, we are on track to meet the 2019 targets at current recycling levels. However, whilst this is clearly good news, we must treat some of the figures with caution, especially plastic where high PRN prices have increased the risk of fraudulent claims.”
Most materials on target
With regard to other packaging materials, paper and board, while recording a fall in material recovered between Q2 and Q3 from 978,282 tonnes to 939,684 tonnes, has already exceeded its net 2019 target recovering 2,865,154 tonnes of material, 101.4 per cent of its expected target of 2,990,054 tonnes after 163,912 tonnes were carried forward from 2018.
Wood has already surpassed its expected net 2019 target by 10.1 per cent, while other materials performing particularly well include glass melt (86.3 per cent of 2019 target) and steel (82.3 per cent of 2019 target).
Glass aggregate remains far behind where it needs to be to meet its year-end target of 68 per cent, though when joined with glass melt the total glass recycled or exported stands at 80.6 per cent of the expected 2019 obligation.
You can view the provisional packaging data for the first three quarters of 2019 on the National Packaging Waste Database.