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The importance of finding ‘lost’ PRNs

Kathy Illingworth
Feb 27, 2013

Recent Valpak research has identified that a significant number of PRNs are ‘lost’; referring to plastic packaging recycling (UK or export) where PRNs are not being raised. Our work identified recycling being undertaken by facilities not accredited to raise PRNs – most likely not being registered with the Environment Agency due to economic reasons. We estimated that around 50k tonnes of plastic packaging was recycled, but did not generate PRNs in 2011 due to this. If reported, this 50k tonnes would represent around half of the increase needed in recycling to achieve the 2013 plastic packaging target. So ensuring PRNs are raised on recycling activity will be very important to support compliance in future years.


We know there are other reasons PRNs aren’t raised on recycling activity – for example when exports are sent for reprocessing, but do not have the appropriate paperwork and as such they are ‘written off’ for PERN generation. Do you know of any other reasons why PRNs are not being raised on legitimate plastic packaging recycling? What can the industry do to ensure this recycling is being counted? What will be the effect of increasing RDF use on availability of plastic for recycling?


This research was undertaken by Valpak and WRAP to support the UK meeting the 2017 plastic packaging recycling targets and is published in three reports:


  • Plastic Packaging Composition 2011 – provides a comprehensive picture of the composition (format and polymer) of plastic packaging flowing onto the UK market in 2011
  • PlasFlow 2017 – maps the flow of plastic packaging from consumption through to end markets in order to develop a number of possible compliance scenarios for meeting the plastic packaging target in 2017
  • PlasFlow Carbon - an assessment of the carbon footprint in alternative scenarios to meet the 2017 plastic packaging target, using the data and modelling framework developed in PlasFlow 2017


All three of these reports are now available from Valpak’s website here and are already being used by the plastics industry and government to support increased plastics recycling.


Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this weblog represent those of the individual authors and not those of Valpak Limited or any other organisation.