The Environment Agency has said that it is too early to say whether the number of reprocessors and exporters accredited to issue PRNs in 2011 has fallen compared to 2010 – pointing out that the final figures will not be available until the end of the year.
Data on the Agency’s National Packaging Waste Database (NPWD) shows that 439 organisations were accredited for 2010, compared to just 340 which have registered for 2011 – representing a 29% drop. This is all accounted for by ‘large’ companies – those who are permitted to issue more than 400 tonnes of recycling evidence.
This would seem to suggest that the low value of packaging recycling evidence (PRNs) at the end of 2010 and the relatively low packaging recycling targets are deterring companies from registering, which in turn could have big implications for the availability of packaging recycling evidence this year.
However, a spokeswoman for the Agency told letsrecycle.com that companies would continue to register throughout the year and it was too early to come to any conclusions.
She said: “You cannot compare figures at the end of 2010 with the start of 2011. Reprocesses and exporters seek accreditation throughout the year and 2011 is no exception.
“We are currently processing applications we have received during January and the final number of accredited schemes for 2011 come December will be higher than the current total – but exactly what that total turns out to be will be determined by the market. The accreditation system is voluntary and is driven by supply and demand.”
The Agency added that it had 21 further applications in the system which, if approved, would mean that 361 companies would be accredited to issue PRNs for this year, and that the other agencies which dealt with accreditations may also have some in their system.
Despite this point, the Agency was not able to provide details of how many companies were accredited at this time last year – which would provide an accurate year-on-year picture.
While it was able to supply year-on-year comparisons to letsrecycle.com at the end of November, which seemed to suggest that accreditation numbers at that stage were broadly similar to year before (see letsrecycle.com story), it said that it did not closely monitor numbers at this time of year.
The spokeswoman said: “Unfortunately we do not have easily accessible records to compare month by month”.
At the end of 2010, the Environment Agency revealed that 132 reprocessors and 89 exporters had registered for 2011 compared to139 reprocessors and 89 exporters who had registered at the same time the year before for 2010 (see letsrecycle.com story).
At the time, industry commentators pointed out that the proportion of larger compared to smaller companies registered was likely to increase during 2011, because many companies registered as small operations and merely upgraded when necessary.
Despite this confused picture, many in the sector are still worried that the number of companies accredited to issue PRNs is definitely down compared to last year – with knock-on implications for the price of PRNs this year.
One commentator pointed out that even if large companies registered later in the year, this would mean that all the recycling they carried out up until that point would not be eligible for PRNs.
All eyes are now on Quarter 1 packaging recycling data, which is due to be published at the end of April and may give a clearer idea of what lies ahead.