A report commissioned by Zero Waste Scotland has found that a Scotland-specific Packaging Recovery Note (PRN) system could be feasible.
The study found that a Scottish system of producer responsibility around packaging, that would replace the current UK system, could work. It also identifies the issues to investigate further.
Carried out by Valpak, the research looked at how a SPRN would differ to a current PRN in the following areas:
- An evidence point at the collection. Collectors would be required to provide evidence to compliance schemes on the quality and quantity of the packaging material they have collected. In return for the production of this evidence, they would receive a share of the overall SPRN value.
- The introduction of a compliance SPRN which would ensure that no compliance scheme or direct registrant can fail due to lack of collection of packaging material.
- A litter fee that is based on the unobligated packaging placed on the market.
While the report found that the system would be feasible, it suggested that benefits would only outweigh costs over a 15-year period. The study said that a completely separate system would require new primary legislation, which would also delay implementation.
It also recommends that the best available option from a social, environmental and economic perspective is to adopt Scottish reporting with a voluntary participation option.
The voluntary participation would include setting Scottish specific targets and voluntarily extending the scope of the Consumer Information Obligations to include the responsibility for litter and a litter fee-based system.
This is based on the assumption that it would deliver the increased recycling rates achieved through a full implementation of the proposed system.
To achieve UK recycling levels, and the potential higher targets being set by the European Union, other formats of packaging will be required to be targeted in addition to beverage containers.
Currently, collection of pots, tubs and trays are very low and these formats need to be included as specific targets in any compliance system.
Zero Waste Scotland chief executive Iain Gulland said: “This report on the potential of a Scottish Packaging Recovery Note system provides food for thought. It finds that a Scottish PRN system could have benefits around increasing recycling, accountability for producers, environmental performance, and cost benefits over the longer term, especially for local authorities.
“However, there are a number of factors which would have to be considered for the introduction of this system, which would also have to work in tandem with other policies.
“Zero Waste Scotland is focused on facilitating robust evidence gathering from the broadest possible range of stakeholders around system changes that could boost recycling and tackle litter.”