Ben Richardson on the PRN market: September 2021

Ben Richardson Valpak

After a month off for holiday season in August, everyone is now back to it with the run up to the C word. Christmas, drivers and Covid are all presenting a challenge to the resource management industry right now. Demand remains for material, but we just need to be able to get it there!

The monthly figures from NPWD showed that it was generally a quieter month for reprocessing in August, as expected, but remelt and steel were the materials of note, showing substantially low figures, albeit these are voluntary submissions.


Plastic volumes have continued their slow decrease month-on-month, which could be why the market has been spooked into an increase, after PRN prices crept back up to £30 as I write this. While the lower figures are not good reading and could be linked to the challenges around moving material, the remaining monthly average run rate that the UK needs to comply is way below our year-to-date average monthly run rate. 

This means even if we did use all December material for carry forward, we should still easily comply, unless there is a monumental change in plastic recycling in the next couple of months. Furthermore, the positive changes for Turkey are still yet to wash through the compliance industry, which should strengthen the position (if we can get drivers of course!).

The demand for OCC remains strong both on the Continent and Far East, which is reflected in this month’s processing figures. With rates increasing to 318,000 tonnes, we could see compliance on paper closing out in mid-October. As a result, prices are dropping down to 95p and will probably continue to fall away as people start to fill up their general pot instead. 

Aluminium prices have dropped drastically down to around £6, even with the small decrease in the monthly reporting, there are a lot of PRNs available to sell, driving down price. Steel has also decreased but ever so slightly in price, while volume-wise it had a huge drop. This is being linked to a lack of reporting, rather than a supply issue.  

Wood has had a quiet month also, but considering it has already met its obligation, they are just producing for general recycling pots now. 

Glass remelt has continued to be the thorn in the side and while the volumes being processed are higher than this time last year, by 13,500 tonnes, it was still a poor month compared to rest of the year. As a result, the market is seeing prices staying around the £40 with no sign of easing. This didn’t help with the recent monthly figures decreasing by 79,000 tonnes.

While this year is not closed out, people are starting to look at 2022 – members, PCS and reprocessors. As a result, we are seeing material starting to be traded, with some people wanting a more stable market for some material streams. 

Ben Richardson is director of procurement at Valpak

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.