The PRN system needs to be overhauled, according to the Aluminium Packaging Recycling Organisation (Alupro).
It said that packaging waste recovery data released by the Environment Agency for the first quarter of 2015 shows that reported aluminium packaging recycling is significantly below the levels required to achieve the 2015 target.
While the 100% packaging is above the figure reported in Q1 2014, the tonnage reported for aluminium packaging recovered from incinerator bottom ash (IBA) is below the level it said has been recycled or exported.
Alupro executive director Rick Hindley (pictured) said: “Quarter 1 is the first indication we have of the impact that the removal of the aluminium scrap protocols and the introduction of the new protocol for the recover of aluminium packaging from IBA is having on recycling performance in our sector.
“The reported numbers indicate that the majority of qualifying aluminium packaging recovered from IBA has not been reported. The reason for this is that a number of key players have either decided not to apply for accreditation or have not yet received approval from the Environment Agency and so are unable to issue PRNs on this material.
“The problem is compounded by the fact that a number of reprocessors and exporters who have previously been accredited have chosen not to reapply. Our understanding is that this is due to the complexity of the system, and the accreditation process itself.”
Alupro said that it has regularly voiced concern to the government and Environment Agency that a significant volume of aluminium packaging is being reprocessed outside the PRN system and have made suggestions on how to streamline the system.
This includes making accreditation to the PRN/PERN system part of the Environmental Permitting regime and recognising the ISO 14001 international standard in the application process to reduce the administrative effort required in the application.
Rick Hindley added: “Unless and until these changes are implemented we will continue to be at risk of volatile PRN prices and obligated companies will face significantly higher PRN costs when, in reality, more than enough aluminium packaging is being actually recycled to meet the targets.
“Alupro’s proposed changes to the system would be of benefit to all materials but are more significant for aluminium, as the PRN price is minimal compared to the high traded price of used aluminium packaging.
“The UK will undoubtedly be facing higher recycling targets when the EU circular economy package is announced later this year. In order to be able to demonstrate achievement of the targets, it is vitally important that we ensure that all the aluminium packaging collected for recycling is accurately counted through the PRN system.”