The release of quarter 2 recycling figures has incited mixed reactions from the recycling world.
While some materials are on track to reaching end-of-year targets, there is still concern for others, particularly recovery and aluminium.
Shortfalls bring unease
The removal of some aluminium protocols last year used to generate a significant amount of evidence (~10,000 tonnes), has resulted in a shortfall of recycling in quarters 1 (see previous story) and quarter 2. Only 12,334 tonnes of aluminium was recycled in quarter 2; approximately 8,000 tonnes off the quarterly requirement (see table below). This is disappointing, particularly as the bottom ash incinerator protocol bought in this year to help deal with the shortage, does not appear to be improving the situation. This could be due to the lack of accreditation sought from reprocessors due to the low price of aluminium evidence. There is potential for this to impact producers within the food or drink sector, particularly if they have not fixed or agreed capped prices for their aluminium evidence.
Recovery evidence is also still experiencing a shortfall. Following the shortage in quarter 1, which is thought to be due to a change in criteria for EfW accreditation, it was hoped that many reprocessors would achieve status and that recovery evidence would increase throughout the year. But this does not seem to be happening as speedily as needed.
Table 1. Quarter 2 recycling figures
The good news is that all other materials are on track to hitting the annual targets, with materials such as wood and paper having a particularly large surplus. Even plastic, which saw a shortfall in quarter 1 seems to have increased, bringing positivity to the market, which previously saw reprocessors struggling to compete with virgin polymer due to falling oil prices and lack of tonnage acceptance in China.
ecosurety’s commercial director James Piper comments “the focus for us will be ensuring the decision taken to remove protocoled aluminium does not impact UK recycling. The view that bottom ash processing would replace protocol appears to be impacting the market and this needs reviewing to understand why delays are occurring with registrations and reporting.
We know that the low PRN availability does not tie in with actual packaging being recycled so this suggests with more transparency the pricing impact should be limited.”
Whilst flexible plastic packaging has its benefits, it remains very challenging to recycle. Despite making up around 25% of all UK consumer packaging, only 8% of flexible plastics are recycled.Read More >>
The Q1 recycling figures released by the Environment Agency indicate a high-performance quarter, albeit supported by high PRN pricing.Read More >>
The DRS is set to be implemented in Scotland in 2024 with England following in 2025. All producers of in-scope drink containers will be required to meet a collection target set by government. Are you affected?Read More >>