Reformed PRN System Could Produce Greater Funds for Recycling

FPA’s Six Key Reforms Needed for Packaging Recovery Note System

The Foodservice Packaging Association has suggested six key reforms the Government should make to the Packaging Recovery Note System.

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The Foodservice Packaging Association (FPA) has suggested six key reforms the Government should make to the Packaging Recovery Note System to increase fairness and effectiveness.

The system is currently used to enable obligated businesses to meet their Producer Responsibility requirements for all the packaging they place on the market.

The call follows a recent meeting with the UK’s leading brands and retailers organised by the FPA in conjunction with Alupro (Aluminium), the British Plastics Federation (BPF), Industry Council for Packaging and the Environment (INCPEN) and the Packaging Federation.

The meeting, chaired by Lord Deben, unanimously agreed to six principles for reform based on the PackFlow 2025 Report produced by leading compliance scheme, Valpak, and which the FPA, together with consultancy Sancroft International, has developed.

"Acknowledging the Government’s intention to increase recycling, it is clear the UK needs to ensure long-term funding is in place to develop further our recycling infrastructure and increase collection particularly when people are ‘on the go’ which now accounts for an increasing percentage of total consumption,“ said Martin Kersh, executive director of the FPA.   

“A reformed PRN system will produce a much greater fund than that currently achieved and will ensure all funds are devoted entirely to recycling and collection as opposed to taxation, which will most likely disappear into Treasury coffers,” he continued.

According to Kersh this would also spread the load more fairly across the whole supply chain by bringing in more businesses and would achieve the aims at a lower cost to consumers, drive up recycling R&D, produce a communication fund to produce better consumer and business practice and will bring about far more recycling and achieve the desired outcomes far more effectively than all the other proposals that have been made in the UK.

The six principles for a reformed PRN system are:

  • Everyone should play their part – this should result in the reduction or removal of the de minimis level to expand the number of obligated businesses (just as currently with batteries and all WEEE) 
  • The system should financially reward recyclability 
  • The system should financially reward inclusion of recycled content 
  • Local authorities, businesses, and places of work should work towards a standard base recycling system, to provide certainty for all and allow the introduction of a universal labelling system
  • The proceeds of the new PRN fund would be distributed by an independent body that should include cross-sector industry members to achieve desired outcomes – a precedent model of this is ENTRUST for the Landfill Tax. 
  • All reprocessors and exporters of packaging waste must be obligated to be part of the system to ensure we measure the true recycling rates. Also, PERNs (Packaging Export Recovery Note) should be modified, not least to remove their inherent advantage over PRNs. 

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