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Q4 unverified packaging recycling data released 2020

12th March 2020

Ash Clay

The most recent release of recycling data (12 March 2020) for Q4 2019 from the Environment Agency is now available, which details the progress made by the UK against its recycling targets for the entire 2019 compliance year

The PRN market in 2019 proved to be extremely volatile with prices for some materials such as plastic and aluminium reaching record highs. Despite the volatility however, it seems the increased prices stimulated recycling levels enough to ensure that despite being behind target at points in the year, both plastic and aluminium both hit their recycling targets. This is alongside all other materials reaching their target, including paper and wood surpassing their own specific targets with surplus being used to fill the UK’s general recycling obligation.

At this stage, the data is still classed as ‘unverified’ meaning that there are still some accredited re-processors and exporters to report their data, however, it’s still incredibly useful to interpret and to outline potential effects on the market. We’ll be publishing a further update upon release of the verified data in due course.

Table 1: Quarterly recycling levels for the 2019 compliance year alongside total UK obligation

Figure 1.1: Q1-Q4 2019 recycling rates, without the previous year’s carry in included

Figure 1.2: Q1-Q4 2019 recycling rates, with the previous year’s carry in included

The release of the data was much anticipated (despite the general acceptance that the figures would be strong), largely due to the fact we now have access to the ‘carry in’ tonnages. Carry in tonnages are PRNs which have been generated in the month of December, which were not needed to be used in order to hit the 2019 recycling targets. If they are unused, the tonnage will roll over into the next (2020) compliance year. This means that the higher the level of ‘carry in’, the more security we have when starting to offset the next year’s obligation. Generally, a higher carry in level will reduce market pressure and stabilise prices.

Table 2: Carry in levels for 2018, 2019 and 2020. Differences between 2020 and 2019 shown.

As you can see from Table 2, the carry in levels for 2020 have increased for all materials except energy from waste and also glass other. The overall increases are very welcome news, especially considering that once again the UK’s recycling targets have increased for the new compliance year. There will no doubt be external factors which have huge influence in the PRN market for 2020, just as in 2019, however, these carry in levels do provide the UK with a great platform on which to start.

The next meaningful set of data will be released in April which will detail the UK’s quarterly progress for Q1 and will give us a sense of how we are performing at this early stage of the year. This will be very interesting to see, as external factors such as export difficulties and the effect of Coronavirus may well play a part and show up in this release.

Shortly after the Q1 data release, we will once again be running a PRN market update webinar for packaging members in which we can tie together the close of 2019 with the start of 2020, as well as taking a look at aspects such as the UK’s packaging obligation for 2020. This webinar is on Friday 22 May at 10am and you can register your free place here: https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/3600944966917505027. As usual, we will be recording the webinar so if members wish to access this recording and the slides after the webinar has taken place, we can provide this.

We also deliver a monthly packaging communication for members called ‘Inside Look’ in which we provide an update on a host of topics, including the PRN market. Our packaging members can sign-up to this report here: http://eepurl.com/gP4uEP

If you are our packaging member and have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with your personal Account Manager directly, otherwise you can also contact myself (Ash Clay) or Sarah our Commercial Director and we’ll be happy to help - ash@complydirect.com / sarah@complydirect.com