Summary of government response to PRN reform consultation


The consultation aims
The Key Takeaways
PRN/PERN reporting
Mandatory Operator Competence Assessment
DRS and PRN interaction

The government’s revised EPR strategy focussed on funding Local Authority collections directly and keeping the current funding arrangements for the recycling industry through PRNs, meaning that the current system will remain until at least 2026 to 2027.

As well as the government, many people within the industry felt that changes were still needed for the PRN system to achieve better transparency, less volatility in the market and to ensure it was fit for purpose alongside EPR.

On the 28th October, Defra published its highly anticipated summary of consultation responses and government response to the Packaging Recovery Note (PRN) and Packaging Export Recovery Note reform consultation.

The consultation aims were:


The Key Takeaways


PRN/PERN reporting

Since 1997, reprocessors and exporters have been required to report their PRN production data quarterly. In 2016, the EA introduced the facility for reprocessors and exports to report PRN production data monthly, however, this has always been voluntary.

Last week’s government response confirmed that monthly data reporting will be mandatory for reprocessors and exporters. Monthly reporting is expected to reduce volatility in the market and increase transparency. Although increased reporting will have a positive impact on the market, the administrative burden on reprocessors and exporters was acknowledged, and the impact this burden may have on smaller operators.


As outlined in the government response to the 2021 EPR consultation, additional requirements will be placed on exporters of packaging waste in order to increase the scrutiny of exported materials.

These requirements include:

Mandatory Operator Competence Assessment

A vast majority of respondents voted that a mandatory operator competence test should be introduced for reprocessors, exporters and compliance schemes. The government laid out their intention of progressing with proposals to introduce the competence assessment, these will be brought in as part of the wider EPR packaging regulations.

DRS and PRN system interaction

Producers of drink containers that are eligible for the incoming Deposit Return Schemes (DRS) will purchase PRNs for that material until the DRS is rolled out. Producers obligated under the DRS in Scotland, which will be live from August 2023, will not be obligated to purchase PRNs for in-scope materials however they will remain obligated to purchase PRNs under the English packaging compliance regulations until the English DRS is in operation.

Producers of materials that are in-scope of a DRS will not be obligated to pay Local Authority costs for the management of the collection and sorting of the material that remains in kerbside collections or that is disposed of in communal bins before a DRS system is operational.

"Clarity welcomes the broad spectrum of engagement with the Government's PRN reform consultation. The government's response largely echoes their pragmatic approach to the implementation of EPR."

Martin Trigg-Knight, Director of Compliance service, Clarity Environmental commented:

“Clarity welcomes the broad spectrum of engagement with the Government’s PRN reform consultation. The government’s response largely echoes their pragmatic approach to the implementation of EPR. The introduction of mandatory monthly reporting will bring greater accuracy to in-year assessments of UK recycling capability and bring greater balance to the PRN market. This measure, alongside greater requirements for reprocessor, exporters, and compliance schemes, should increase transparency, and bring better accountability to the sector.”

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