Q1 packaging data published

22 APRIL 2022

The recycling data for Q1 has been published and has already significantly impacted on PRN prices. (updated 28/04 - 40k increase in wood and 3k increase in plastic exports since 22/04)

At this stage, we do not yet know the likely total demand for the year as producer registration data is not yet published (expected 13 May). But if we apply this year's targets to last year's data, it should provide a reasonable estimate and by deducting the December carry forward tonnage, can provide a reasonable assumption for the likely PRN demand for 2022.

Overall, the data is lower than expected with some figures that will be likely to have a significant impact on PRN prices.

The table below gives a summary of the total amount recycled in relation to the predicted net obligation and below that, the quarterly split of exports and UK reprocessing over the last three years.

Of major concern is the fact that the total amount being recycled is less than we need to meet the potential demand, an extremely unusual situation. As the table below shows, there are a number of materials that contribute to this:

  • Paper - both exports and UK reprocessing significantly down, exports in particular. 
  • Glass - UK reprocessing well down.
  • Aluminium - exports down.
  • Steel - a huge drop across both UK and exports. Analysis of the steel data indicates that this is due to a near 50% fall in steel can recycling over the last two quarters (see graph further down)
  • Plastic - continued drop in exports.
  • Wood - slightly down on last year's average quarterly but up on Q4.

The view in the market place suggests that the majority of the falls, especially paper, relate to lack of available waste. Is this down to a Covid buying spree hangover? But there are also other issues. Export problems into Europe. Shipping concerns because of the Ukraine situation. Tightening EA accreditation requirements. Export markets issues such as tighter controls into the Netherlands in relation to the definition of recycling.

The PRN market today has seen substantial price rises on the back of these numbers. - plastic, steel and paper up around 20% from yesterday, for instance. We must wait for the producer registration data to be published to get a better feel for demand and of course, this recycling data is provisional and could see changes once verified by the Agencies. But the signs would seem to suggest that prices are unlikely to come down any time soon and if anything, are likely to rise still higher.

This graph shows the amount of packaging recycling registered from the steel scrap grade protocols and steel cans.