Packaging recyclers lose the right to issue PRNs

Fourteen recyclers or waste exporters that were authorised by the Environment Agency to issue packaging waste recovery notes (PRNs) have had their accreditation suspended or cancelled since last autumn.

Under the packaging regime, businesses or compliance schemes acting on their behalf must demonstrate that they have taken steps to recycle and recover packaging waste.

In almost all cases, this was achieved by purchasing PRNs from recyclers or exporters accredited by the Environment Agencies. Until last year, the accreditation scheme was voluntary, but since 1 January 2004 the scheme, along with the PRN system, has been the sole, statutory method of demonstrating compliance.

In the light of concerns that PRNs were being issued erroneously, particularly in the wood and plastics sectors, an investigation into wood recyclers was carried out last year by the Environment Department (DEFRA) and the Agencies. When it became clear that some PRNs had been issued that should not have been, DEFRA was forced to revise the official national recycling rate downwards by several percentage points (ENDS Report 346, pp 19-20 ).

A second investigation, into plastics recyclers and exporters, was launched by DEFRA in February.

Last autumn the Agency suspended the accreditation of some firms while they were investigated. A number have had their accreditation cancelled.

When a firm has its accreditation suspended this is normally for the period of investigation. Once the investigation is complete the accreditation is either reinstated or cancelled. Firms whose accreditation has been cancelled can re-apply the following calendar year, but will have to demonstrate that the factors leading to the loss of accreditation no longer apply.

Some compliance schemes have complained that the Agencies have done little to tell businesses and compliance schemes which companies have been blacklisted.

Since September, 14 firms have had their accreditation suspended or cancelled (see table).

Most are plastics reprocessors or exporters, but the list includes recyclers for all the major packaging materials except steel. It includes chipboard manufacturer Sonae, which was prosecuted last year after repeated discharges from its Kirkby site cleared a local brook of wildlife (ENDS Report 345, p 53 ).

It also includes a company belonging to major aggregates group RMC which is a major seller of glass PRNs to businesses and compliance schemes, including Valpak.

Related Environmental Services

Powered by ENDS Directory

Compliance Search

Discover all ENDS content in one place, including legislation summaries to keep up to date with compliance deadlines

Compliance Deadlines

Plan ahead with our Calendar feature highlighting upcoming compliance deadlines

Most-read articles


Hydrometry & Telemetry Officer

The National Hydrometry & Telemetry Team sets the strategy, procedures, ways of working and evidence needs, as well as managing & developing systems for hydrometry and telemetry within Wales.

Senior Industry Regulations Officer

This is an exciting opportunity to join our Industry Regulation Team in South West Wales.

Regulation Unit – Senior Scientific Officer (SScO) – Water

(SScO) will report to a Principal Scientific Officer (PScO). The posts could be in any one of the four areas: - Land and Groundwater Remediation - Drinking Water Inspectorate - Water Regulation - Regulatory Transformation

NEAS Environmental Project Manager

We are looking for two Environmental Project Managers to join our Eastern Hub at the heart of our National Environmental Assessment and Sustainability team (NEAS).

Environment Adviser

We are looking for two Environmental Project Managers to join our Eastern Hub at the heart of our National Environmental Assessment and Sustainability team (NEAS).

People and Places Officer

This post sits in the South West People and Places Team. The Team provides an “intelligence hub” to inform the delivery of sustainable management of natural resources within the place.