International food and drink group Princes has called for greater transparency to ensure export PRNs are brought up to the same standards as UK PRNs.
The call comes as Princes commits to all of its packaging recycling evidence being sourced solely from UK reprocessors in 2020.
UK Packaging Waste Regulations dictate that businesses with an annual turnover of £2million handling over 50 tonnes of packaging must show they have met Government recycling targets by acquiring recovery notes (PRNs) from recycling businesses or exporters – these provide evidence that waste packaging material has been recycled into a new product.
Export PRNs (PERNs) are viewed as “less transparent” than their UK counterparts, Princes says.
Whilst exporters are accredited by the Environment Agency, there is “much more limited ability to ensure compliance on the reprocessors those exporters engage in other countries”, it says.
Princes commitment to work with Valpak, its compliance scheme, to only purchase UK sourced PRNs will see it invest £4-5m in the UK’s recycling infrastructure this year, the company says.
Funds from the sale of PRNs can only be used to invest in ways that benefit the packaging recycling system.
Princes has called for greater transparency to ensure export PRNs are brought up to the same standards as UK PRNs, and contribute responsibly to the global circular economy.
Princes produces circa 7% of the UK’s plastic bottles through its supply of soft drinks and oils in its brands and retailer own label products.
To us, meaningful PRN reform means significantly improved traceability and transparency of where waste is exported and how producer responsibility monies are being invested in the UK
David McDiarmid, Princes Corporate Relations Director, said: “All of Princes current packaging obligations can be met by UK recyclers and we see it as our responsibility to do what we can to ensure our waste does not become Eastern Europe or South East Asia’s problem.
“We accept that increasing UK recycling capacity will take time and that some materials need to be recycled overseas but that is all the more reason why existing Packaging Waste Obligations need reform to encourage UK investment and speed up the process”.
“When we first became aware of the risk of UK packaging waste being irresponsibly treated overseas we took the decision that purchasing export PRNs when UK were available was wholly unacceptable and wherever possible should be avoided.
“To us, meaningful PRN reform means significantly improved traceability and transparency of where waste is exported and how producer responsibility monies are being invested in the UK. It should also mean addressing the current imbalance between PRNs and PERNs to make exports less favourable and allow the UK to grow domestic recycling.
“We hope this would lead to less price volatility for producers like Princes and our end consumers, but also help local authorities who are struggling with reduced budgets.”
Adrian Hawkes, Policy Director from Valpak said: “We are delighted that Princes’ have taken this positive stance.
“It enables us as their compliance scheme to increase our focus on the long-term relationships with UK reprocessors that we have built up over many years.
“This in turn helps support programmes of investment into new UK recycling capacity and developing new markets and technology.”