Food and drink group Princes has invested over £750,000 in to the UK’s recycling infrastructure this year by ensuring that all its packaging recycling evidence is sourced solely from UK reprocessors.
The UK Packaging Waste Regulations dictate that UK businesses with an annual turnover of £2 million that handle over 50 tonnes of packaging must show they have met Government recycling targets by acquiring recovery notes (PRNs) from recycling businesses – these provide evidence that waste packaging material has been recycled into a new product.
The additional income from PRNs can be used by recycling companies to invest in their ability to process increasing quantities of packaging waste sustainably.
At present, just over half (52%) of recovery notes required by UK businesses are issued by UK recyclers with the remainder issued by international recycling companies.
David McDiarmid, Corporate Relations Director at Princes, said: “By purchasing export PRNs, businesses are moving potential investment into the UK’s recycling capacity overseas.
“At a time when single-use packaging is under such heavy scrutiny, we need to improve the UK’s ability to recycle sustainably. As a business, we feel by working with Valpak, our chosen compliance scheme, to purchase all of our evidence from UK recyclers in 2018, we are investing in that much-needed infrastructure.”
Steve Gough, Valpak CEO, added: “Valpak was very pleased to be given this challenge from Princes. We purchase more UK evidence than any other compliance scheme in the UK, and by Princes supporting us in this way, we can ensure their evidence costs are channelled to UK reprocessing.
“This type of decision helps us direct funding towards UK reprocessing on behalf of our customers and therefore help investment in UK capacity.
“We have been working to support UK reprocessing for many years and it has been great to have a company like Princes come forward and specifically direct us to do this on their behalf. Our targeted compliance service is specifically designed to offer businesses this opportunity.”
According to a National Audit Office report, packaging exports have increased six-fold since 2002.
The report also stated that there was a risk that some material was not handled to UK standards ‘and is instead sent to landfill or contributes to pollution’.
Many industry participants, including Valpak, provided detailed evidence to the enquiry, which covered a broad range of topics. Suggestions included improvements to the current system, as well as more fundamental reforms.
It is expected the Government will consider some of these when they consult on new regulations later this year.
Mr McDiarmid said: “Recycling technology and scalability is developing all the time – this process will speed up with more UK investment, hence our move to reject export PRNs.
“As a particular focus, plastic recycling needs a much more advanced infrastructure to ensure we recycle and reuse as much plastic as possible, founded on circular economy principles.”