Ben Richardson on the PRN market

Ben Richardson Valpak

Since the last report the world has been turned upside with everything that is well documented in the media with the world facing evermore challenges, with little sign of positive change.

In among all this, packaging remains a hot topic with the release of the voluntary monthly reprocessing figures, sky high commodity prices and the implementation of the plastic packaging tax coming in next month. 


The monthly figures threw up some surprises and has already impacted the pricing of PRNs, but many are waiting to see the UK obligation for 2022, alongside the 2021 Q4 and carry in figures, to see how the land really lies. 

Plastics have remained ever turbulent in the past few weeks and have slowly crept up to £80 per tonne, kick started around the time of the monthly figures being released. While the plastic figures are up on the previous month by around 24kt, however compared to this time last year it was down 16kt. While this appears to be a slow start for the year, all we need is a good few months, as we did last year, and we will be on track to comply. 

Paper has thrown a small curveball. With the high demand for OCC, the volumes that are being recycled and exported remains strong. But PRN generation eased. Volumes were 28kt down on last month and 112kt down on this time last year. As a result, we have seen the price creep up to £2.50, a 25% increase, and will probably continue to see an increase in the coming weeks. The counter to that, is the volumes needed to comply monthly for 2022, are far in excess of what we achieved on a monthly basis last year. This points towards a small blip, or lack of data submissions this time round. 

Glass had a strong month of processing, with volumes up for both last month and compared to this time last year, which is some positive news. This did impact the price with it trading down to £50, but it is now creeping back up based on people holding tonnage until they see the other figures, as mentioned above. This created a perceived market tightening. 

Aluminium traded down to between £11 and £12.50, based on an increase in processing from last month, and only a marginal difference compared to this time last year.  

Steel remains static, as it does, trading around the £9.50 mark, with a little flurry at £12.50 in recent days. 

Wood has crept up to the £2 mark in recent days, generally linked to the increase in paper over the past few weeks.  

Ben Richardson is director of procurement at Valpak

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