UK plastics recyclers are hoping that the government will alter recycling targets to prevent a move to foreign markets. British Plastics Federation’s Recycling Group, which includes CK polymers, Eco Plastics and Jayplas – claim that the system makes it less attractive to recycle in the UK than to export the material.
They are suggesting that the present material-specific target for plastics be altered so that a percentage of it must stay in the UK for processing, whilst another amount is met by export. They are also suggesting that, in time, the amount exported will be decreased.
In 1997 Packaging Regulations were introduced. They said that producers had to pay towards recycling costs by buying Packaging Waste Recovery Notes (PRN’s) from UK processors. The money was to be used to expand the amount of material recycled. But shipping documents began to be accepted as evidence of recycling overseas; these are known as Packaging Waste Export Recovery Notes, or PERNs.
SEPA and the Agency claim that the system provides a huge boost in favour of export as contamination within waste which is exported earns PERN income, however PRNS are only given for material actually recycled in UK reprocessors, also disposal costs of contaminants is much higher in the UK.
British Plastics Federation also say that using the PERN system is more profitable to waste management companies, as they receive the income, however if it is passed to a reprocessor, the PRN income is given to the reprocessing plant. The market is distorted as the reprocessors have to pay more to prevent export.
BPF propose a slight change to the Packaging Regulations which would follow the example of the glass sector. From next year more emphasis will be put on the remelting of materials.