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The UK is on course to meet its packaging recycling targets for 2016, with nearly a 7% increase in recycling compared to 2015.

Confirmed with the release of provisional data on the Environment Agency’s NPWD website, it is welcome news with political uncertainty dominating the environmental agenda in recent times. While final figures are due next month, the early indications are that the first quarter of 2017 will see largely stable PRN (packaging waste recovery note) prices across most materials.

A year-on-year increase in plastic recycling of 13.7% is particularly positive news as PRN prices can be volatile in this material, especially when demand outstrips supply. The information suggests that a significant amount of “transitional” plastic tonnage, recycled in December 2016, will be carried forward to cover 2017 obligations, softening supply.

PRN system is delivering value

The Advisory Committee on Packaging (ACP) were quick to point out that recycling increases are proof that the PRN system is delivering value in the UK. Although the potential for market volatility and the lack of PRN transparency remains, packaging recycling continues to increase in the UK.

Figure 1 below shows increases in recycling across all materials when comparing 2016 to 2015. So while there have been calls for legislative reform from the Green Alliance and ESA (Environmental Services Association), the data is another indication to the government that the system is fit for purpose.

2015 vs 2016 packaging recycling

Stay informed

To keep up to date with the latest recycling figures and how they influence your compliance costs, please book your place on our free Q2 packaging compliance commercial update webinar, taking place on 20 April. 

If you would like to discuss your packaging compliance with our team, please contact us on 0845 094 2228 or email info@ecosurety.com.

Robbie Staniforth

Policy manager

As policy manager, Robbie is responsible for liaising with government, regulators and industry organisations to represent our members’ views and interests. In previous roles, he helped to instigate market-based change and he brings that dynamism to his current role of influencing regulatory change. With years of experience working across a number of departments at Ecosurety, it’s fair to say he has an excellent understanding of producer compliance and recycling, which enables him to provide high-level policy expertise, industry insight and market analysis to our members.

Written by
Robbie Staniforth
Packaging, Compliance

Useful links

Plastic recycling infrastructure and education must jointly improve

The UK needs to improve both recycling infrastructure and reach out harder to consumers to make them care more about recycling, if it is to solve the pressing issue of plastic recycling in the UK.


PRN system to be reviewed by National Audit Office

The Environmental Audit Committee requests review due to concerns over a lack of transparency and the potential for fraud. 


Ecosurety leads expert panel debate at Packaging Innovations 2018

With the hot topics of plastic packaging and the 25 Year Environment Plan at the forefront of the national agenda, we lead an expert panel discussion next month to gain insight and perspective from across industry.