Every quarter the Environment Agency (EA) release recycling figures showing how many tonnes of each packaging material has been recycled in that particular period.
The EA get this information directly from the reprocessors and it can be used as an indication of whether the UK is on track to meet its annual recycling targets.
Following the publication of the Q3 provisional recycling figures, we take a look at what they mean for the remainder of the year and potential impacts for 2016.
Aluminium sees huge jump
Coming out of Q2 there was significant concern surrounding aluminium recycling due to changes in recycling protocols. However, following additional accreditations and actions taken by Defra and EA, aluminium recycling volumes have increased by over 10,000 tonnes – putting it vertically back on track for the 2015 target.
Q4 will be tight, meaning PRN prices are likely to remain high for the rest of the year. Should the current accredited reprocessors continue approval into next year, then 2016 should have an easier start.
Despite being in a good position in the summer, plastic has seen a steady rise in cost over recent months, driven by poor export markets and oil commodity prices. Q3 recycling figures have seen a 12% drop compared to Q2 and despite being on course it means that again Q4 needs to be the strongest performing quarter of the year.
Importantly there are still many exporters and reprocessors that have yet to declare tonnages, which may improve the picture over the coming weeks. The high PRN price should encourage more recycling but with a 5% increase in target for 2016 and probably very little carry over, next year is looking tough for plastic.
Steel pressure increases
Given the recent steel plant closures in the UK, questions have been raised about this material heading into 2016. Q3 figures were down nearly 20,000 tonnes on Q1 and Q2 which should still mean the 2015 target is achieved, but if that performance continues into 2016 then things could be tight for next year.
Smashing glass performance
Glass had an excellent Q3, up nearly 50,000 tonnes on the previous two quarters. This is the highest performance in glass for over three years and it puts glass well on course to achieve its target comfortably.
This is great news for glass producers who have seen very turbulent prices over recent years and with PRNs sitting at a steady level for much of 2015, it seems that the market has self-corrected to find a balance between incentive to recycle and viability for producers.
EfW recovering (a little)
The new R1 status requirement for EfW reprocessors has led to a huge shortfall in PRNs this year. Despite a steady increase in performance over each quarter, it’s doubtful that there will be enough to cover the UK obligation. This will likely mean that this obligation will have to be covered by recycling (material) PRNs, most likely paper.
If you have any questions or concerns about how the latest recycling figures could affect your packaging compliance obligation, simply give our team of specialists a call on 0845 094 2228 or email email@example.com.
Chief innovation officer
James Piper is CIO of Ecosurety. Having previously taken on the role of CEO for nearly five years, James is now focused on leading the development of new products and services that not only benefit producers, but help drive change for good and a positive impact on UK recycling.
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