Uncertainty in PRN market as firms await UK obligation figures

PRN traders are going through a period of uncertainty as the country waits for the Government to announce UK obligation figures.

The latest PRN prices show another slight rise from last month's figures in many materials, continuing this year's general upward trend, but on the whole remaining fairly steady.

Glass PRN prices have crept up over the 30 per tonne mark, aluminium has shifted up to as much as 50 per tonne in some cases, with plastics edging nearer 40 per tonne. Energy recovery and wood PRNs have also nudged upwards to the 30 per tonne mark. Paper PRNs remain at between 28 and 32 per tonne, and steel also remains about the same as last month, the same price as paper.

Many in the industry continue to be a little surprised that PRN prices are still creeping upwards, but according to some, the price may level off in the coming months, and in some materials the price may begin to drop – particularly in plastics and wood.

One trader told letsrecycle.com: “There seem to be a lot of plastics out there, which is why the prices might be going down, and there's a lot of wood out there – much more than there should be, really.”

One possible impact on plastics is the renewed interest in the export market, as China takes more plastics from the UK (see letsrecycle.com story).

There is a fair amount of uncertainty in the industry at the moment, caused by the Government's delay announcing the UK obligation figures, and according to one compliance scheme, the implications of the High Court ruling on glass obligations for brewers and licensed retailers has also caused uncertainty in some sectors of the industry.

The ruling, made last month by the High Court, saw the brewers no longer obligated for the 'seller' portion of glass recycling obligations. Instead the duty passed to the licensed retailers themselves (see letsrecycle.com story).

“We have to wait and see if Valpak can get the pubs to sign up,” a compliance scheme trader said. “Otherwise, there's a lot of obligation that could be lost.”

However, Valpak, the compliance scheme that originally brought the case before a judge, has said it is fairly confident that the ruling won't affect UK obligations since the duty to recycle glass packaging will pass to national pub and club chains. Valpak has also been setting in place glass collection schemes to pick up glass from independent licensed premises (see letsrecycle.com story).

August is, naturally, a quiet month for PRN trading, so very few deals are going ahead at the moment. However, there is expected to be a flurry of activity in September, particularly during the Recycling and Waste Management exhibition in Birmingham.

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