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Packaging Recovery Note

In the context of plastic packaging in the UK, PRN stands for “Packaging Recovery Note.” It is a system that was introduced as part of the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations in 1997. The PRN system is designed to encourage the recycling and recovery of packaging waste and ensure that packaging producers meet their recycling and recovery targets.

This week, there have been many articles about PRN, with little explanation of the purpose of this governance.

The Waste Guru highlights and explains that their views may not fit officials’ views.

In the context of plastic packaging in the UK, PRN stands for “Packaging Recovery Note.” It is a system that was introduced as part of the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations in 1997. The PRN system is designed to encourage the recycling and recovery of packaging waste and ensure that packaging producers meet their recycling and recovery targets.

The PRN system is supposed to assign a specific value (PRN credits) to each tonne of packaging material recycled or recovered. Packaging producers, who must meet recycling and recovery targets, can purchase these PRN credits from accredited reprocessors or exporters to demonstrate that they have contributed to the recycling or recovery of packaging waste.

The PRN system in the UK is overseen by organisations such as the Environment Agency, Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Natural Resources Body for Wales, and Northern Ireland Environment Agency. These agencies monitor and regulate the system to ensure compliance with the packaging waste regulations. (Or do they?)

The PRN system was designed to play a crucial role in promoting the recycling and recovery of plastic packaging in the UK. It should provide financial incentives for packaging producers to invest in recycling and recovery infrastructure. It should also encourage collaboration between producers, reprocessors, and exporters. By purchasing PRN credits, packaging producers contribute to funding recycling and recovery initiatives and help ensure that the overall recycling and recovery targets are met. (But do they?)

It’s important to note that the PRN system focuses on recycling and recovering packaging waste and does not directly address plastic pollution or waste reduction issues. However, incentivising recycling and recovery indirectly contributes to reducing the environmental impact of plastic packaging by diverting it from landfills and encouraging its reuse in the manufacturing of new products.

However, the PRN system in the UK is open to corruption; the system is not regulated or monitored in a way that can provide complete transparency of the process. The Waste Guru believes that the lack of transparency within the system has caused the disruption this week.

A huge price drop in PRN value means that some businesses will be closing for Christmas early, some may not recover, and others will be facing a massive reshuffle of funds, staff and processes to adapt to this decrease.

  • The reason behind this?
  • Mismanagement?
  • A system that has never been fair?
  • A system that has minimal moderation that enables the export of material and reselling?

Who knows? All are assumptions. However, The Waste Guru believes that with no real answers, these ideals need to be considered.

The introduction of EPR has been delayed on copious occasions, leaving an already muddled PRN system open to advantageous businesses manipulating figures, and in turn, this has impacted PRN prices.

We at Titan Resource believe that a well-managed system is an essential mechanism for promoting the circular economy and sustainable management of plastic packaging waste. It provides a framework for accountability and transparency in the recycling and recovery. It helps drive progress towards a more environmentally friendly packaging industry. Unfortunately, the lack of audit and management has caused a considerable disruption to the recycling industry, and this, in turn, impacts the economy and people’s livelihoods.

What do we think?

DEFRA and the EA do better!