PRN system to be investigated by National Audit Office

Paper for recycling

The National Audit Office (NAO) has announced that it will review the Government’s oversight of the Packaging Recovery Note scheme. 

This follows the Environmental Audit Committee’s (EAC) request, as it has concerns that the system is opaque and could be subject to non-compliance.  


Companies handling any form of packaging must guarantee that a certain proportion is recycled under the PRN scheme, and while the Government has already acknowledged the need to reform this scheme, EAC has raised concerns about the lack of incentives for eco-design and how recovery note revenue is spent. 

Other concerns about how exported waste is treated once it arrives in destination countries was also raised, and the Committee has asked the NAO to examine whether the Government has a good oversight of the PRN scheme’s performance against its objectives. 

It also asked to assess whether the Government has taken a strong approach to prevent fraud and non-compliance.  

Environmental Audit Committee Chair Mary Creagh said: “Packaging waste is contributing to the ever-growing levels of plastic pollution in the UK and abroad. Packaging Recovery Notes are intended to make companies do their bit for recycling, but there is significant concern that PRNs are distorting the market in favour of exports rather than reprocessing in the UK. 

“The NAO review will give my Committee an insight into the effectiveness of the PRN system, enabling us to assess whether the Government is taking the right action to ensure high levels of recycling in the UK.” 

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