Princes commits to no export waste
Food and drink firm Princes has committed to ensuring that all of its packaging is recycled and handled solely by UK re-processors, rather than exporting the waste abroad, to gain more certainty that its packaging is recycled or dealt with appropriately.
Princes produces around 7% of the UK’s plastic bottles by volume, largely through its soft drinks and oil brands and own-label products. In a bid to better handle the processing of its produced waste, Princes has vowed to only work with UK firms in acquiring recovery notes (PRNs) from recycling businesses.
Current UK legislation requires businesses with an annual turnover of £2m handling more than 50 tonnes of packaging to highlight that they’ve met Government recycling targets through PRNs, which can be acquired from UK recycling firms and waste exporters.
Princes states that export PRNs (PERNs) are less transparent, due to a limited ability to ensure compliance outside of the UK. Currently, the Environment Agency accredits exporters but has limited ability in ensure compliance in other countries.
As such, Princes has announced a commitment to work with the Valpak compliance scheme to only purchase UK-sourced PRNs. Funds from the PRN purchases will be used to boost the UK’s packaging recycling system. Princes estimates that around £4-5m will be invested in UK recycling infrastructure as a result
Princes’ corporate relations director David McDiarmid said: “All of Princes current packaging obligations can be met by UK recyclers and we see it as our responsibility to do what we can to ensure our waste does not become Eastern Europe or South East Asia’s problem.
“We accept that increasing UK recycling capacity will take time and that some materials need to be recycled overseas but that is all the more reason why existing Packaging Waste Obligations need reform to encourage UK investment and speed up the process”.
McDiarmid added that PRN reforms should focus on UK treatment where available and that waste management systems needed “significantly improved traceability and transparency”. Princes also anticipates that the move could reduce price volatility for businesses and help local authorities hampered by reduced budgets.
Earlier in the year, Princes announced plans to move all of its tuna multipacks from shrinkwrap to cardboard sleeves within the next 18-24 months, following successful trials of the new packaging format last year. Plastic-free four-packs of tuna in spring water will hit shelves by the end of April, while the transition for other formats will be gradual.
Princes estimates that the move will affect more than 28 million units of product annually, mitigating the use of 96 tonnes of flexible plastic packaging annually. In order to minimise the environmental impact of the new, recyclable cardboard packaging, Princes is sourcing only FSC-certified material.
Additionally, Princes has used 51% recycled plastic content in its soft drinks and oils range, as well as 30% recycled content in its HDPE drinks range.