0844 873 1034

2017 PRN Revenue Expenditure

9th July 2018

Ash Clay

2017 PRN Revenue Expenditure

The Environment Agency (EA) has recently released data outlining the expenditure of revenue generated through PRN sales throughout 2017 by accredited Reprocessors and Exporters.

The UK PRN system is effective as incomes gained from PRN generation are reinvested to ensure set annual recycling targets are met. If the UK is behind with recycling levels then PRN prices tend to go up (laws of supply and demand) and the additional monies generated from higher PRN prices boost recycling levels. If targets are being easily met then PRN prices are relatively low and Producers are not required to pay too much into the system to ensure compliance.

There has been much debate about the actual levels of reprocessing UK packaging waste in the UK versus a dependence for some packaging materials on exporting it for recycling outside the UK. We have seen a vulnerability on materials such as Plastic when overseas countries (China in this case) stop buying materials to the level they have previously. Many argue that UK reprocessing should be incentivised over export to reduce such vulnerability.

The PRN revenue expenditure data provides a good overview of just how much investment is taking place to boost UK reprocessing capacity. Comply Direct have analysed the expenditure data to illustrate which areas of the PRN system have been re-invested in for 2017.


Figure 1 - Total PRN revenue investment by activity, 2017


Figure 1 shows revenue ‘channels’ as defined by the EA for which each reprocessor/exporter must state how they have invested their PRN incomes. You can see the area of most investment for 2017 was ‘Infrastructure and capacity’. This represents reprocessors/exporters spending money generated through PRN sales on improving their equipment with a view to improving their recycling capacity for the future.

The next most popular area of investment lies as ‘funding collection’. Monies will be re-invested in multiple ways with the aim of funding collections which may include improving the quality of collections performed and/or the number of collections occurring. If numbers of collections of waste increase the more will be available for recycling, thus generating more PRNs.

The next largest investment is defined as a 'reduction in price and development of new markets’. This revenue channel will be invested in with a view to improving efficiencies to reduce overall costs, allowing more money to be re-invested and also to develop new areas of business or new countries to export packaging waste to, again boosting amounts of packaging waste being recycled.

Other channels specified by the EA with much lower amounts of investment include ‘cost of complying with the regulations’, ‘retained for future investment’ and also ‘developing communication strategies’.

2017 UK vs Export

The data available is split by Exporters (collecting and shipping packaging waste abroad) and also by UK Reprocessors (companies physically processing and recycling the packaging waste within the UK).


Figure 2.1 - PRN revenue investment by accredited exporters of waste


Figure 2.2 - PRN revenue investment by accredited exporters of waste


Figures 2.1 and 2.2 illustrate the differences in 2017 investment between accredited UK reprocessors and accredited Exporters.

Exporters have had much more of a focus on ‘reduction of price and developing new markets’ than UK reprocessors. This occurs in the same year as well documented issues with UK waste exports, especially to China as stricter sanctions have significantly shrunk this market meaning new (often much smaller) markets have had to be found.

UK reprocessors, on the other hand, are much more concerned with investing in their infrastructure here in the UK to improve their recycling abilities and perhaps making us less reliant on exports, especially for materials such as Plastic.

Changes over time?

As this information is available each year, Comply Direct has looked at 2017 PRN expenditure vs the two previous years to gauge just how investment trends and attitudes within the UK may have changed.



Figure 3 - Main channels of PRN revenue investment, 2015-2017


Overall, Figure 3 shows how as a percentage of the monies, there is a clear trend towards increased infrastructure and capacity investment and less for procurement price support. Also, in 2017, the revenue is again more evenly spread but with ‘funding collection’ receiving much more investment than the previous two years.

In Summary

It’s encouraging to see that both UK reprocessors recycling here at home and also exporters are both re-investing back into the system not only to benefit themselves but also with the aim of increasing and improving recycling levels. They are both understandably investing in different areas but if we are to improve recycling as a country and continue to hit recycling targets, a blend of different investment channels will be required. With more and more money coming into the PRN system as PRN prices have been relatively higher in recent times there is now a real opportunity to see significant UK packaging waste recycling capacity improvements.

Obligated Producers complying with the UK Packaging Regulations, are often not overly aware of just how their PRN monies are being reinvested.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us to discuss this data.