Plastics protocol to track packing waste

A voluntary protocol that gives clear guidance on keeping tabs on plastic packaging waste has been launched to restore confidence in the existing system following a raft of scams and scandals.

The PRN/PERN system which is supposed to track UK plastic packaging waste destined for recycling is still suffering from a tarnished image after a series of investigations uncovered everything from improper, sloppy issuing of the notes to out and out forgery.

Now, in an effort to improve the transparency and accurate auditing of plastics packaging waste recycling in the UK, a Plastics Protocol has been announced by Defra minister Lord Bach.

The purpose of the Protocol is to improve the operation of the PRN/PERN system and to provide enhanced confidence in the reported level of UK plastics packaging waste recycling in the UK.

It aims to achieve this by providing clear guidance on the accurate identification and quantification of plastics packaging waste destined for recycling and the creation of documented audit trails.

While the protocol is entirely voluntary it can act as a kite mark to help reprocessors and exporters to show that they are meeting the accreditation requirements, or by suppliers to satisfy their customers that the PRNs/PERNs issued are genuine.

Supported and funded by the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP), the protocol has been developed by the industry-led Plastics Task Force and the Advisory Committee on Packaging (ACP).

It forms part of the response to issues raised in Defra’s Plastics Packaging Waste Fact Finding Mission Report, which uncovered a significant amount of inappropriate behaviour in the declaration of plastics PRNs.

ACP Chairman John Turner, said: “The committee is delighted that we have been able to generate this document which has relevance right across the plastics recycling industry.

“We hope the protocol is taken up by the industry, compliance schemes and regulators as an important part of their processes.”

Initially, the protocol will be operated on a voluntary basis but it is intended that the key elements of it should become mandatory under future revision to the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations 2005.

By Sam Bond

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