‘Positive’ Q2 data shows all materials meeting targets

Provisional data published by the Environment Agency for the second quarter of 2021 shows the UK is on course to meet recycling targets for the year for all packaging materials.

The figures, published on the National Packaging Waste (NPWD) database last week, have not yet been verified and so are subject to change. They cover the three months between April and June.

Table shows materials collected for recycling so far in 2021, as of 28 July. All figures rounded to the nearest whole number.

Including so-called ‘carry-over’ tonnages from December 2020, a total of 4,664,352 tonnes of waste has been collected for recycling in 2021 so far.

Sandeep Attwal is procurement manager at compliance scheme Ecosurety. She told letsrecycle.com that the data represented good news, though she warned there could be a slowdown later in the year.

Ms Attwal also noted that using carry-over tonnages to ensure each grade was on track meant there was no pool on which to fall back.

“The figures look fine and on track to meet compliance,” she told letsrecycle.com. “The recycling supply is strong, though you would expect to be a minimum of 50% of the way to the targets after the second quarter.”

Concerns

The only two grades about which Ms Attwal had worries were glass remelt and plastic. She said that after a slow start for glass recycling in 2021, there could be a shortage of remelt later in the year, which would see commercial prices rise.

Sandeep Attwal is procurement manager at Ecosurety

As to plastics, Mr Attwal pointed to the Environment Agency’s announcement that it could cancel incorrectly issued packaging recovery notes (PRNs) (see letsrecycle.com story). She said the main concerns for the rest of the year hinged on how many accreditations the Environment Agency cancelled and how many PRNs the regulator asked to be paid back.

“Whether we’re going to meet the plastic targets hinges on cancellations,” Ms Attwal said. “If recyclers don’t have to pay cancelled PRNs back things should be fine, but there could be panic in the market if they do.”

‘Extremely positive’

Martin Trigg-Knight is head of packaging at compliance scheme Clarity Environmental. He concurred with Ms Attwal that the data for the second quarter looked “extremely positive” across all grades, with each now more than 50% of the way to the estimated targets for 2021.

Martin Trigg-Knight is head of packaging at Clarity Environmental

Looking at each glass in more detail, Mr Trigg-Knight said: “Tonnages reported for both grades of glass, remelt and other, remain steady and there is little fluctuation between Q1 and Q2 data.”

Turning to other materials, he added: “Paper, wood, aluminium and steel all look extremely positive, with all reporting higher tonnages than the previous quarter, which is reflective of easing restrictions across the UK and industries opening up.”

Mr Trigg Knight said the plastic import ban imposed by Turkey earlier this year had caused concerns about “possible instability, with monthly data showing a drop in production”. However, the ban was reversed only days after its implementation (see letsrecycle.com story).

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