October packaging recycling data points to strong year end

The release of the October packaging recycling data indicates a very strong end of year result across almost all grades, with paper and wood having met the 2021 targets with carry over.

The data, which details how much packaging waste has been recycled or exported between 15 September and 15 October 2021, shows glass remelt is currently the only grade behind target.

Paper/Board

October was the strongest month reported for paper in 2021 so far, with 343,249 tonnes. This means paper is in a strong position ahead of the final quarter data release, and could result in positive carry over into 2022.

Aluminium & Steel

Aluminium and steel have also reported strong production over the last couple of months, with both materials close to meeting 2021 targets with carry over. Aluminium remains consistent, with 13,854 tonnes reported in October. This takes the grade just below target. The last quarter will be important in informing how much carry over will be taken into 2022.

Steel tonnage fell by 25,000 in October but remained strong, taking the grade to 88% of this year’s targets without carry over, and to 99% of the target with carry over included.

Wood

As seen in the quarterly data, wood has met and exceeded the targets for 2021. October saw the largest reported figures for wood this year, with over 100,000 tonnes. Without carry over this material is now at 142% of the target.

Glass

Glass other was one material of concern following a fall in tonnage from August. The last quarterly data reported it to be below levels that are comfortable, causing concern about its ability to meet the 2021 targets. Glass other reported 51,548 tonnes in October, which is an increase of 2,000 from the previous month. With carry over, glass other seems likely to meet its targets, although there are questions over how this year’s performance will position the grade as we head into 2022.

Glass remelt has once again dropped, with 112,559 tonnes reported for October, a fall of over 27,000. With carry over, the grade is below where it would need to be to meet targets.

Plastic

Plastic remains on target for 2021, although recent changes in published data suggest a closer fit against target than was expected earlier in the year. Since the quarterly data was released, 1,467T of plastic export PRNs has been removed from previous Quarter 1 tonnage. Although not yet confirmed, this is a likely result of enforcement activity by the Environment Agency. October figures for plastic were consistent with the previous month, with a small drop in tonnage. If tonnage for the following months remains consistent, and above 90,000, tonnes, plastic should comfortably meet the targets.

"We will watch the figures closely over the next couple of months, which will allow us to plan ahead and support our packaging compliance scheme members as they head into 2022."

Martin Trigg-Knight, Head of Packaging

Martin Trigg-Knight, Head of Packaging, said: “The latest monthly figures follow the quarterly data, and do not reveal any significant change to the outlook or progress, with most grades looking likely to meet targets with positive carry over. Whilst there were some concerns earlier on in the year about glass, it does now seem likely to meet targets. But unless we see significant increases in production figures in the last couple of months of the year, it could impact the performance of glass next year. We will watch the figures closely over the next couple of months, which will allow us to plan ahead and support our packaging compliance scheme members as they head into 2022.

“With the Environment Agency remaining very active in enforcing the regulations – a likely reason for the removal of plastic export PRNs from previously published quarterly data – we continue our own efforts to ensure we can provide PRNs that are traceable, more responsible and legitimate.”

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