Every year, over ten million tonnes of packaging is placed on the UK market, around half of which goes to households, making it a relatively small but visible part of the waste stream.
Under the Producer Responsibility (Packaging Waste) Regulations, which came into force in 1997 and saw targets set for the first time in 1998, packaging producers are obligated to pay towards packaging recycling and recovery by buying evidence, known as Packaging Waste Recycling Notes (PRNs), from reprocessors or exporters. They can fulfil their obligations individually or sign up to Producer Compliance Schemes (PCSs) which will do this on their behalf.
Since then, over £1.5 billion has been paid out by obligated companies through the PRN system to increase recycling and recovery rates and recycling rates have more than doubled. However, there is some way to go for businesses to meet targets set up until 2017 and there is the prospect of even higher targets being set by the European Commission via the proposed Circular Economy Package.
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