13 August 2019 by Joshua Doherty

Delays in data submission ‘add to PRN volatility’

A handful of companies – including some major retailers – registering their packaging waste obligations late in the year, has put some further pressure on PRN markets.

The late registration of packaging data by some packaging producers means that the volume of material needed to meet collection targets for some materials are slightly higher than indicated by previous figures. This means that progress towards targets may be further behind than previously thought.

Late registration by a handful of packaging producers means an adjustment in targets

Packaging producers and exporters are expected to submit data on the amount of packaging they have placed onto the market in the preceding year by 15 April. The data is used to set the overall obligation for the amount of recycling they are required to fund through the purchase of Packaging Recovery Notes (PRNs).

Whilst the majority of producers met the April deadline, it is not strictly enforced by the Environment Agency, and those opting to submit data beyond April only face a £110 late registration charge.

The late input of data led to an overall 3% rise in the tonnage of material required to meet targets

Data from the National Packaging Waste Database (NPWD) shows that 16 companies have registered their packaging data since the start of this month – adding a total of 205,000 tonnes of material onto the 2019 obligation.

Among those to register data late were major retailers including J Sainsbury plc and JD Sports Fashion.

Obligation

This has led to targets for materials rising by around 3% overall between the end of July and beginning of August, with glass and aluminium particularly affected.

Sainsbury’s was among the late registrants

Last month, there was optimism surrounding targets, as the provisional packaging data for the second quarter of 2019 showed that most material are on track to hit target, except aluminium and plastics (see letsrecycle.com story). However, this will now be tempered by the slight adjustment in targets.

The release of the Q2 data last month provided cautious optimism that the UK was on track to hit the 2019 targets but this will now be tempered by the increased obligation.

Commenting on the late submissions, one packaging compliance expert told letsrecycle.com: “While there is unlikely to be any malice in these late registrations, it does cause a problem in the data published.

“The PRN system already lacks data with just four meaningful recycling data points throughout the year. Having accurate packaging weight data from producers to signal the market demand data early in the year is preferable.

“As is now well understood, the PRN market is too volatile, which prevents investment and partnerships between producers and recyclers. Mid-year fluctuations of this nature further exacerbate the existing flaws in the PRN system.”

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