25 July 2016 by Tom Goulding

Steel recycling soars in latest packaging data

The amount of steel packaging recycled in the second quarter of 2016 has spiked according to provisional data released by the Environment Agency on Friday (22 July).

And, nearly all other materials look on track to meet the overall packaging recycling obligation for the year with the exception of glass aggregate.

Steel packaging recycling has received a boost in the second quarter of 2016 despite initial concerns

Steel packaging recycling has received a boost in the second quarter of 2016 despite initial concerns

The figures, published on the National Packaging Waste Database, give an indication of how much packaging waste was recycled or exported between April and June 2016.

Showing how far producers have come in meeting their overall obligation to recycle packaging, the data also give a sign of how buoyant the packaging recovery note (PRN) market is likely to be into the second half of the year.

Steel

The amount of steel packaging recycled in Q2 is notable – rising from a confirmed 94,785 tonnes in the first three months of the year to 119,556 tonnes.

If verified, this means that 58.7% of the total steel demand for 2016 has already been met, easing concerns voiced earlier in the year that the closure of British steel mills could impact the amount recycled and therefore the price of PRNs.

Andrew Letham, sales and marketing manager at The Environment Exchange, says steel packaging recycling has returned to levels “not seen since 2008” and has been buoyed by strong exports. Steel PRN prices have dropped as a result and are now trading at an estimated £15 per tonne.

Provisional data shows how far packaging producers have come in 2016 to meeting their recycling obligation

Provisional data shows how far packaging producers have come in 2016 to meeting their recycling obligation

Other materials have also performed in line with expectations in Q2, with 259,409 tonnes of plastic packaging provisionally recycled and paper too at 925,210 tonnes.

Wood and recovery packaging, which were an area of concern in the latter quarter of 2015, are also performing well with 111,698 tonnes and 188,999 tonnes recycled in Q2 respectively.

Aluminium has meanwhile had “another storming quarter” according to 360 Environmental director and ACP chair Phil Conran, which is set to “well exceed” demand for the year.

Figures published for the material on Friday indicate that 22,156 tonnes of aluminium packaging were recycled in Q2. The metal has benefited from changes to protocols adopted by the Environment Agency in 2015.

Glass

Glass remains the only material which compliance schemes are watching closely, despite revised Q1 data showing a boost in the tonnage recorded.

The Q2 figures reveal that despite a 20,000 tonne upturn in the amount of glass remelt recycled – the amount of glass aggregate is trailing with just 111,190 tonnes accepted or exported.

Mr Letham said: “If glass recycling continues at the same level as Q2 and carry in is taken into account then we will just make target but there is very little room for movement.”

However, Chris Taylor, commercial manager at Clarity Environmental, suggests that any deficit in glass other can still be covered my remelt, adding that the third quarter of the year has always been historically strong for glass with the warmer weather providing an increase in drinks consumption.

“With positive figures across the board, I expect we will now see further softening of PRN prices,” he added.


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