There has recently been pressure on paper PRNs due to low volumes of recovery PRNs being generated as a result of new accreditation requirements (read more here).
However there have been some welcoming changes that should now see more paper PRNs being generated.
Household mixed paper
When mixed paper is collected from UK households, typically there is always a degree of packaging contained within, such as cereal boxes or small cardboard items. To ensure that these packaging items were not missed under the PRN system, it was previously agreed by Defra that 12.5% of mixed paper collected from households could count as packaging material, allowing PRNs to be generated for that proportion.
However, following trials and analysis of mixed paper collections at a material recycling facility (MRF), Defra is now near to agreeing a new protocol percentage of 23%. This could just be an interim change as further trials on mixed paper collections and MRFs are due.
The change has been received positively by the paper sector who feel the move realigns changes in paper packaging and consumer buying habits that have happened over the last decade with mixed paper collections.
Paper PRN impact
Reviewing the most recent four quarters of mixed paper recycling volumes, this increase in the protocol should add an extra 130,000 paper PRNs into the market. Whilst this only represents around 5% of the overall UK paper target, it will make a welcome injection of tonnage which should ease pressure on the recovery shortfall (which was around 250,000 tonnes down in 2015), for which paper PRNs were used to plug the difference.