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360 : PRN Q1 data indicates tough glass and plastic position for 2011


With a large surplus across most materials, last year’s packaging targets were easily met other than in glass which only scraped through with a very small carry forward. The flat targets for this year combined with significant carry over of December tonnage has meant that PRN prices remain low. However, the Q1 data just publishedby the EA would suggest that it may not be wise to be too complacent this year.

Approximately 450k tonnes of glass was recycled in Q1. This is well above Q1 2010, but is not as high as might have been expected given the assumption that much of the shortfall in Q4 data may have been due to uncollected glass because of the snow which would have been collected in January. If the rest of the year continues at this level, then with an expected increase in obligation due to strong drinks sales in 2010, the 2011 targets for glass will not be met.

Another area of concern in plastic. 20k less tonnes were recycled compared to the same quarter in 2010 and at the current rate, again, it is unlikely 2011 targets will be met.

Although steel is still running at a level that should relatively easily exceed the targets, there has been a 25% drop  in tonnage compared to 2010. The concern with this and plastic in particular, is that both have seen big drops in the number of reprocessor and exporter accreditations – around 20% – compared to 2010. The question must therefore be whether this fall is likely to continue to be reflected through the year because of the accreditation position or is a seasonal blip that will be compensated for in later quarters. The number of accreditations is shown near the bottom of ourPackaging page.

Of the other materials, aluminium came out with extremely strong figures and at a total of nearly 18k tonnes, it smashed previous records. Wood saw a big drop from the same period in 2010 of nearly 30%. But this has also seen a big drop in accreditations of a similar amount. Paper was almost identical in volume terms, to Q1 2010.

The graphs below show the relative levels of Q1 compared to previous quarters over the last 3 years. For a quarter that was supposed to make up for the low tonnages in Q4, this was not, perhaps, what people were hoping for and it tends to suggest that the decline in accredited recycling tonnage is continuing. As a total, at 1.6m tonnes, the quarter’s recycling level was the lowest reported since Q2 in 2009 and could reflect a difficult year ahead.