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Revised glass recycling business targets

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association has welcomed today’s announcement from Government that it intends to lower PRN (Packaging Waste Recycling Note) rates and targets, following a huge increase in glass recycling costs.  

The WSTA has been leading industry calls for Government action to address the huge rise in prices, which has had a crippling impact on WSTA member companies.   

Since mid-2012 prices for PRNs have risen from stable levels of about £10-£20 per tonne to £70-£80 per tonne and have remained extraordinarily high since.

Commenting on the Government’s announcement, WSTA Chief Executive Miles Beale said:

“Since mid-2012 there has been a huge increase in PRN prices, which has had a significant commercial impact on our members. We hope that by lowering the PRN rates and targets this will restore stability to the market.  

For that to happen we need Defra to legislate for revised rates and targets as soon as possible. While revising recycling targets is an important step towards improving the PRN system, more needs to be done to introduce greater transparency and accountability to the market.”  


UK businesses which make or use packaging have a statutory responsibility to ensure that a proportion of the packaging they place on the market is recovered and recycled. In the case of glass packaging, EU rules require 60% of waste glass to be recycled.

Packaging Recovery Notes (PRNs) provide the evidence that businesses need to prove they have met the recycling rules.  Businesses meet their obligations by acquiring PRNs.

In 2012 low quantities of glass being accepted for reprocessing in the first three quarters of the year put significant pressure on the market to increase glass recycling in the last quarter. As a result, prices for PRNs have risen from historically stable levels of about £10-£20 per tonne to £70-£80 per tonne and have remained extraordinarily high since.

Since it became apparent that something was seriously wrong with the PRN market, the WSTA has been active in engaging its members, Defra, the Environment Agency and has established a caucus of other trade associations (British Glass, BBPA, BSDA, FDF and SWA) to push for changes to the system. Having helped to ensure a coordinated lobby this led to the then Defra Minister responsible for recycling policy in late-2012 commissioning the Advisory Committee on Packaging (ACP) to consider how stability in the PRN system might be improved.  

One element of that review was a report on glass flows in the UK supply chain which found that there had been an overestimation of the amount of glass on the market - a major factor in pushing up glass PRN prices. The Report recommended that Government should revise the estimates for overall glass on the market from 2.75 million tonnes in 2012 to 2.4 million tonnes. The announcement today reduces the overall target for 2014 from 81% for obligated businesses to 75% and then increasing incrementally to 76% in 2015 and 77% in 2016 onwards.

For further details on today’s announcement click here

Picture: Docklands Waste Recycling

20 March 2014 - Felicity Murray The Drinks Report, editor