Mixed papers to get further PRN boost in 2017
Just over one third of mixed papers will count as packaging materials in the PRN system after fresh research into the paper grade.
This means that more paper PRNs – packaging waste recovery notes worth about £1 each and issued at the rate of one per tonne of packaging material – can be issued by accredited reprocessors and exporters.
The changes will come into force from 1 January 2017 via the national mixed paper protocol – which defines the amount of claimable packaging waste in the mixed paper grade. This will be increased from the current figure of 23% to 34.5% – in 2014 the eligible percentage stood at a lowly 12.5%.
The increase follows a consultation between Defra, the Advisory Committee on Packaging (ACP), the Confederation of Paper Industries and the Recycling Association, as well as a seven day sampling programme involving UK mills.
In light of the 34.5% figure, about 200,000 additional mixed paper PRNs are expected to be supplied by reprocessors and exporters in 2017. In terms of overall increases in the volume of PRNs, the extra mixed paper ones still represent only a small percentage of overall PRNs – in 2015 3,667,388 PRNs were issued for paper although the bulk of these were for cardboard collected separately from mixed paper.
Cardboard grades still generate the majority of paper PRNs
However, the protocol change is particularly important going forward as research has found that the amount of paper packaging in the UK ‘marketplace’ is higher than previously estimated (see letsrecycle.com story).
Mixed papers are mainly sourced from the household waste stream and contain an element of packaging such as cereal boxes and small cardboard packaging.
In April, the Environment Agency confirmed that the amount of packaging that could be claimed from the mixed stream was to rise from 12.5% to 23% from January 2016, based on some material recycling facility (MRF) sampling data submitted by the ACP (see letsrecycle.com story).
The announcement was seen as a step forward for paper reprocessors and exporters who had only been able to issue one packaging recovery note (PRN) for every eight tonnes (12.5%) of mixed paper material handled since the original Packaging Waste Regulations were drawn up in 1997.
According to the Swindon-based Confederation of Paper Industries, social change has altered the composition of mixed paper since the protocol was first agreed. A decline in newspaper readership, increased online shopping and changes in food packaging have increased the proportion of packing paper and card present above the original 12.5%.
The packaging content of mixed papers has increased over time.
Speaking to letsrecycle.com, Phil Conran, chair of the Advisory Committee on Packaging, said: “I am very grateful to the paper industry for carrying out this more rigorous sampling work following the interim protocol of 23%. It is great to see the level raised to accurately reflect the composition of mixed paper waste.”
In addition, the sector is to at the same time adopt the BS EN643 as the agreed industry standard for approved paper reprocessors and exporters. It means that where paper mills or exporters can demonstrate they are using the EN643 grade standard, they will not be required to provide evidence of material sampling for accreditation.
Provided they can show that they are handling UK derived packaging which meets the specified grade standard, reprocessors will simply need to be able to demonstrate to the Environment Agency that they are buying and selling according to the EN643 standard.
Simon Weston, CPI Director of Raw Materials, said: “These changes represent a considerable simplification to the current system and should assist those reprocessing and exporting paper-based materials to engage with and support the PRN system.”