Packaging obligation figures published for 2021

The 2021 packaging recycling obligations have been published on the National Packaging Waste Database (NPWD), with major changes in both wood and glass grades.

The obligation, which works in line with packaging recycling targets, puts most materials in a secure position after the latest monthly data release.

The initial total obligation, which sets the amount of packaging waste recovery notes needed by producers for the year, has been set at 7,405,899 tonnes for 2021, which is down from 7,616,936 tonnes last year. The obligation may increase through the year as new companies register as obligated producers, but this first figure provides an indication of the demand for evidence.

Increase to glass and wood obligations

One of the major changes in obligation is wood, which is around a third less than it was in 2020. The majority of the wood requirement comes from commercial, industrial and manufacturing, so this is unsurprising, with lockdown and social distancing measures reducing activity during the summer of 2020. The wood recycling target also came down from 48% to 35% for 2021, which contributed significantly to the overall dramatic drop in UK obligation

The division of glass remelt and glass other has also changed, from 67% of total glass being made from remelt, up to 72%. This means an increase for remelt by around 40,000 tonnes. With such a significant jump in its obligation, this is one grade that could face challenges this year.

Monthly data release reports positive progress

The latest monthly data, also released by the Environment Agency on the NPWD , reports on the amount of packaging waste recycled or exported between 10 April and 10 May 2021. This shows glass remelt is behind where it needs to be to meet targets for 2021. However, with lockdown lifting and the partial reopening of pubs and restaurants in April, both glass other and glass remelt have recorded higher monthly tonnages in April compared to the rest of the year. Glass other has reported over 77,000 tonnes, which is over 32,000 tonnes higher than the previous month. Glass remelt reports 124,704 tonnes.

Other grades are performing well according to the monthly data.

Paper

Although paper saw a small drop in tonnage compared to last month, with another 300,000 tonnes, the grade currently looks comfortable in meeting its target for 2021. Due to the increase in the online retail market, this is one of the few grades where we may see UK obligation increase with such consistent tonnages being reported.

Steel

Steel tonnage has also fallen, reporting 31,065 in the April data. However, it should be noted that steel is a material that tends to be underreported for monthly data and a clearer picture will be represented in quarterly figures. Although not looking as strong as other materials at this point in the year, steel looks like it will continue on target as long as production remains at around 29,000 tonnes per month or above.

Aluminium

Aluminium continues to report consistent figures in the monthly data. With another 12,000 tonnes published, this grade looks comfortably on its way to meeting its target for the year. This has been reflected in the stable market prices with a downward trend.

Wood

At 82,934 tonnes, the production reported for wood in this latest monthly data is almost double that of last month. This puts the material in a much better position than we have seen for the first few months of the year, with domestic lockdowns impacting construction. As we now move into the more active months for this industry, we expect progress to continue.

Plastic

Plastic tonnage remains at a similar level to last month, with 116,315 tonnes reported in the April data. This puts plastic at a comfortable position to its target and the grade is currently sitting higher than the same period last year. This has been reflected in a stable price point through much of this year, with few major fluctuations. Since the release of this data, news of a plastic import ban into Turkey has, however, raised concerns about whether this progress will continue in the short term.

"Plastic and glass are the grades to watch right now. With glass remelt falling behind target, it is hoped that the full reopening of hospitality will provide a much-needed boost in the coming months. And whilst plastic has performed well this year, the export market is, once again, facing pressure as a result of Turkey placing a ban on the import of this material. "

Martin Trigg-Knight, Head of Packaging at Clarity Environmental

Head of Packaging at Clarity Environmental, Martin Trigg-Knight, said the latest data pointed to some positive progress so far this year.

“Considering all the uncertainties over the last 15 months around the pandemic and the impact of Brexit, the continued progress towards targets has been reassuring and has resulted in stable market conditions for many grades, with little cause for concern.

“Plastic and glass are the grades to watch right now. With glass remelt falling behind target, it is hoped that the full reopening of hospitality will provide a much-needed boost in the coming months. And whilst plastic has performed well this year, the export market is, once again, facing pressure as a result of Turkey placing a ban on the import of this material. We will continue to closely follow the impact of this move on price and availability.”

Trade with Clarity

Clarity has been trading in PRNs since our business was established in 2002. We offer a variety of ways to procure packaging recycling and recovery evidence, helping UK businesses to meet their obligations under the Producer Responsibility (Packaging Waste) Regulations. We are proud to have launched CREQS, our pioneering quality standard for recycling evidence, enabling packaging producers to achieve safer, more sustainable and responsible compliance with the packaging regulations.

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