Big falls in plastic, glass and wood in Q1 packaging data



Fears are growing that plastics recycling targets will be harder to meet after first quarter packaging figures showed a sharp decline.


The amount of plastic recycled compared to Q1 2011 in the first quarter this year showed a 20 per cent fall, according to newly published Q1 packaging data from the Environment Agency.

Aluminium also fell by 25 per cent compared to the same period last year, wood dropped 27 per cent and glass was down 15 per cent.

To meet the plastic targets for 2013 to 2017 would require an increase of 5 per cent per year meaning that the amount of plastic recycled would need to rise from around 10,000 to 15,000 tonnes annually to more than 100,000 tonnes.

360 Environmental director Phil Conran said: “Overall, if the year continued at this rate, we would not only fail to meet glass, plastic and aluminium targets, but we would also miss the overall recycling target.

“The biggest fall has been in plastics exports and there may be a number of reasons for this. One is that there has been a significant problem with exports because of container shortages and another is that the recent low packaging recovery note (PRN) price has seen a large fall in the number of accredited exporters.

“The questions is whether the position will change radically enough for the rest of the year for the escalating PRN prices, a sharp rise in the amount being recycled and then a collapse in the PRN price at the end of the year when we suddenly realise that there is a surplus. But with the sharp increase needed for the next year, it is likely that any surplus this year will be grabbed for next year under the carry-forward rules.

“There is a long list of reprocessors and exporters that have not yet finalised their Q1 data, but given that NPWD basically captures their activity dynamically, it is not expected that the submission of their returns will have much impact on the figures as they stand. It would therefore seem likely that we are in for a rocky ride in 2012 even though in theory, given that the targets haven’t risen at all, the year should be a doddle.”

Q1 2012 packaging data 

  Waste Accepted for UK Reprocessing Waste Exported for Overseas Reprocessing Total Waste Accepted or Exported Total PRNs/PERNs Issued
Paper/board   326,873 468,919 795,792 392,629
Paper Composting  1,449 0 1,449 0
Glass  306,927 72,226 379,153 162,562
Aluminium  11,859 2,518 14,377 6,248
Steel  49,607 41,524 91,130 50,034
Plastic  42,674 74,487 117,162 45,564
Wood Composting  0 0 0 0
Wood  128,288 0 128,288 44,051
TOTAL RECYCLING  867,677 659,674 1,527,351 701,088
EfW  194,750 0 194,750 48,202
TOTAL RECOVERY  194,750 0 194,750 48,202
TOTAL RECOVERY (INC RECYCLING)  1,062,427 659,674 1,722,101 749,290