Following concern expressed by Alupro about the suitability of the Packaging Recovery Note (PRN) system for recording aluminium packaging recycling it has commissioned a research project to reveal the real recycling rate.
Alupro advocates streamlining the reprocessor/exporter accreditation system and reducing the administrative burden with the aim of capturing the true amount of aluminium packaging recycled in the UK or exported for recycling.
Presently, packaging recycling data comes via the PRN system. The system requires voluntary accreditation by reprocessors and exporters, and yet many choose not to become accredited so their tonnages are simply not captured. These gaps in the data mean that recycling performance appears weaker than the reality.
Now Alupro has taken the initiative to fund a third party study to identify the ‘real’ tonnage of aluminium packaging captured for recycling.
Independent environmental consultancy, Resource Futures is carrying out the research, which aims to determine how much aluminium packaging is reprocessed or exported beyond that reported by the accredited organisations.
“Resource Futures is contacting reprocessors and exporters of aluminium that have been accredited in the past but are not currently in the system, to determine the additional amount of aluminium packaging being recycled but not reported,” explains Bernie Thomas, Resource Futures Principal Consultant; “We are also contacting trade associations to help capture more missing data, to help build a more complete picture.”
Rick Hindley, Executive Director of Alupro says: “Following Q1 figures being lower than anticipated, the Q2 figures show a continuing shortfall (at 12,334 tonnes compared to the estimated 16,750 tonnes per quarter required to achieve the target). Alupro is confident that the results are the consequence of weaknesses in data collection rather than the performance of the recycling system itself, and is hoping that this new study by Resource Futures will show the true recycling performance and help shed light on the disparities.
“A significant number of aluminium reprocessors and exporters have not maintained their accreditation under the PRN scheme, claiming that it is too onerous and with the value of PRNs so low last year, it was not worth their time to apply this year.”
Alupro has repeatedly voiced concerns to Defra and the Environment Agency (EA) about the inherent weaknesses in the PRN system. The EA and Defra are now working with the Advisory Committee on Packaging (ACP) to consider options to streamline the accreditation process. However, it is unknown whether this will be adequate to encourage more reprocessors and exporters to register.
The initial phase of the Resource Futures study will be completed by the time the Q3 PRN figures are released. The alternative total is expected to provide a sound basis for comparison with PRN figures, by accounting for non-accredited reprocessors and exporters.
Meanwhile, the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management has identified that data is severely lacking in certain areas of the resource and waste management sector, and is funding its own study to identify data gaps.
Rick Hindley added: “With the EU Circular Economy Package likely to raise recycling targets even further, it is vital that we understand exactly how much aluminium packaging is in the household waste stream, and exactly how much is being recycled. Alupro’s proactive approach demonstrates our commitment to getting this right.”