The estimated figure has been taken from monthly reporting figures recorded between 1 January 2016 and 10 February 2017.
While the official overall figures for 2016 will not be revealed by the Environment Agency until next month, all reprocessors will by now have entered their tonnage for January to December onto the Packaging Waste Database – presenting a clearer picture of the year’s performance.
The Environment Agency has also also published the final producer recycling and recovery obligation for 2016 – which stands at 7.7 million tonnes. This means nearly 500,000 tonnes of packaging recycling evidence is expected to be carried over into the 2017 compliance year.
The statistics show a strong end to the year, with packaging recycling and recovery increasing by 766,718 tonnes compared to the previous 12 months.
This difference was keenly felt in steel and plastics packaging – which showed a 14.2% and 13.7% increase on 2015 tonnages respectively according to the figures.
Sharp increases were also seen in aluminium packaging recycling, with 90,053 tonnes recycled in 2016 compared to 76,027 tonnes in 2015. This came despite concerns at the beginning of the year that uncertainty surrounding the future of UK steel mills would affect the supply of material.
Recovery PRNs have similarly seen a boost – rising by 61% in 2016. This again follows a shaky year in 2015 when EfW operators were slow to gain R1 accreditation in order to issue PRNs under a new protocol.
The figures suggest that glass saw volumes rise by just 2% compared to 2015. PRN prices for both glass remelt and aggregate remained low throughout the year, with 71,000 fewer tonnes of aggregate recycled than in the previous 12 months.
The target for the material has risen from 76% to 77% last year and is due to remain static until 2018.
Commenting on the outlook, Chris Taylor, commercial manager at compliance scheme Clarity Environmental, said: “The indications have been, for some time, that the UK will have no difficulty complying with our 2016 targets, so whilst not yet verified, the latest data throws out no big surprises.
“With a positive outlook for this year, and tonnages being carried forward to the UK’s 2017 obligation, particularly in the case of plastic, the impact on the packaging recovery note markets is that they remain stable. In contrast to this same time last year, the markets are under very little pressure, and for now at least, prices are relatively flat across all grades.”
Official Q4 statistics for 2016 will not be published by the Environment Agency next month, with 2017 Q1 data to follow in April.