“No plans” to cap PRN prices, Defra says

plastic packaging

Responding to a parliamentary question, Defra minister for resources and waste, Trudy Harrison MP, said Defra will continue to keep the matter under review, but currently have “no plans” to intervene in the market and to cap PRN prices.

Jessica Morden, Labour MP for Newport East, asked the parliamentary question to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, questioning what assessment he has made of the effect of rising costs of Packaging Recovery Notes on businesses, and if he will implement a cap on PRNs.

Responding to the question, Trudy Harrison, MP for Copeland, said “we are aware that prices of PRN/PERNs have increased in recent months, in particular, prices for glass PRN/PERNs”.

She continued that Defra has regular engagement with industry, through its Advisory Committee and with the regulators, to understand if there are any issues within the market and the likely impact on business.

Price fluctuations are a feature of any market system.

“The UK operates a market-based mechanism to support the provision of evidence to show compliance with producers’ recycling obligations.

“Price fluctuations are a feature of any market system. Higher prices usually result from supply side issues, which in turn encourage increased activity by operators in the market, thereby increasing the level of reprocessing and reducing PRN prices.”

Elected as Conservative MP for Copeland in 2017, Trudy Harrison was appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on 7 September 2022.

PRNs (Packaging Recovery Note) are certificates issued by accredited reprocessors when they recycle or recover packaging waste.

At the recent RWM exhibition, Steve Gough, the CEO of Valpak, called for a Compliance Fee to ‘take the heat out of the PRN market’ and compared the packaging system to WEEE where a Compliance Fee has been in operation since 2014.

Recently, Managing Director of Re-Gen Waste, Joseph Doherty, wrote in Circular Online asking whether the PRN system needs a Compliance Fee.

He said: “This year has seen the highest level of overall PRN cost since the system started. Current prices indicate a likely year-end cost of over £500m – dwarfing the previous peak costs of 2019 – and this has led to renewed calls for a price control mechanism.”

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