Packaging and PRNs
Packaging waste generated in the UK totals around 11.6 million tonnes. In 2016 the UK wide packaging recycling rate was 64.7%.
The legislative system in the UK around packaging waste is delivered by the Producer Responsibility (Packaging Waste) Regulations (as amended), which came into force in 1997. These saw targets set for the first time in 1998 with packaging producers obligated to pay towards packaging recycling and recovery by buying evidence. The evidence is known as a Packaging Waste Recovery Notes (PRN) and can be generated via UK reprocessors or from the export market as export PRNs (PERNs). Obligated businesses can fulfil their obligations individually although most sign up to Producer Compliance Schemes (PCSs) who will handle the work involved.
Resources and Waste Strategy
In the wake of the Resources and Waste Strategy published at the end of 2018, the UK Government held a consultation outlining options to reform the UK Packaging Waste system. This document, along with other consultations held at the same time (see consultations page), will significantly alter the way in which the UK packaging waste system operates in the future, with significant changes and cost impacts for packaging producers. The intended start date for the new system is the beginning of 2023.
Since the Regulations came into force, it is estimated that between £1.8 – £2 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. Targets are now set up until 2020 and are likely to increase in line with the Circular Economy Package and UK Government resource strategies.
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