Recycling Plant

Food manufacturers and producers are set to see a sharp fall in the cost of hitting their recycling obligations towards the end of 2016, after figures showed the UK was well ahead of its targets for the year.

The figures show that as of the end of April the UK had already produced more than 50% of PRNs (Packaging Recovery Notes) for 2016, under a system run by the Environment Agency.

The latest figures from the agency mean food producers and manufacturers will have an overall lower cost of complying with UK packaging regulations, which cover the disposal of packaging containing glass, steel, aluminium, plastic and paper.

It means food manufacturers should be able to achieve a lower price for remaining PRNs for the rest of the year on the so-called PRN market, created to encourage food producers and other manufacturers to contribute towards the cost of recycling under the Producer Responsibility Obligations for packaging waste.

The regulations affect food companies that turn over more than £2m and also handle more than 50 tonnes of packaging per year, with the biggest companies facing charges running into hundreds of thousands.

James Piper, commercial director for compliance scheme Ecosurety, said: “These latest figures will bring comfort to food producers over the next six months. A shortage can dramatically increase the price of PRNs and mean food producers end up paying over the odds to recycle their packaging waste. In 2015 the average PRN price fluctuation across all materials was 653%.”

He added: “Today’s figures mean food manufacturers should hopefully be able to achieve a lower price for their remaining PRNs for 2016, effectively lowering their overall costs of complying with the Producer Responsibility Obligations for packaging waste this year.”

About 7,000 companies in the UK are currently registered with the Environment Agency to pay their packaging obligations every year, but it is estimated that hundreds of companies are not complying with the legislation.

Fines for non-compliance typically range from £5,000 to £20,000. However, the highest fine awarded so far in England and Wales has been in excess of £250,000.