Collect and Recycle

Good news on the plastic packaging front in the third quarter

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Many of those firms that receive money for cardboard from Collect and Recycle ( also use the service for the recycling of plastic packaging film. They may therefore be interested in the Environment Agency’s publication of provisional packaging waste recovery data for the third quarter of 2013 showing a significant rise in plastic packaging recycling collections, despite early suggestions that the sector’s recycling target may not be met.

The Environment Agency published its data for July-September 2013 on October 22, showing a continued increase in plastic and glass packaging recovery rates from the first and second quarter figures. The third quarter of this year saw the processing in the UK and abroad of 195,331 tonnes of plastic, compared to the first quarter figure of 153,640 tonnes and 165,011 tonnes in the second quarter.

For many in the waste services sector, it once seemed unlikely that Defra’s target of 37 per cent of plastic being recycled would be met. However, the target now looks much more achievable, with only around 169,000 tonnes – a figure broadly similar to that of the second quarter – now needing to be processed in the final quarter of the year.

The rise in plastics trading has been attributed by waste recycling observers to a marked increase in the value of the material’s packaging waste recovery notes (PRNs). As the second quarter commenced, plastic PRNs had been priced at around £20-30, but this had leapt to £60-70 by the start of the third quarter. The increasing recycling target has been partially responsible for the rise in PRN price, although the restriction on the export of material to China – the UK’s largest overseas market for material – has also played a part since it began in February 2013.

Although the improved recycling figures for plastic packaging were described as “very positive” by the Environment Exchange’s senior market trader Ian Andrews, he warned that in 2014, with the target rising by an additional 5 per cent, a drop in the plastic PRN price could weaken the market’s position. He predicted a softening in the price, adding that there had already been a fall in the spot market from £67 to around £54.

He commented that “Even though we are in a strong position at the moment, this is what we will need to be doing next year,” adding that “The market needs to ascertain the trigger point that would enable export markets to remain open.”

“If we do see prices drop off significantly we are going to create problems for 2014. The final quarter of the year usually sets the tone for the next year, and producers will benefit from having a relatively strong performance.”

However the plastic recycling sector fares over the coming months and years, Collect and Recycle ( will continue to provide the best service for not only plastics, but also cardboard collections and the recycling of all manner of other material, for firms looking to receive money for business waste.

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