Wine industry welcomes reductions in glass recycling targets

The wine and spirit industry has welcomed the Government's announcement that the glass recycling targets for businesses will be significantly lowered from autumn 2014.

This means that businesses handling over 50 tonnes of waste and with a turnover of more than £2m, which must comply with the Producer Responsibility Obligations, will see a reduction in their costs.

The Government’s decision is a recognition that the current target was too high and caused sharp price increases in the cost of glass Packaging Recovery Notes (PRNs) for businesses from 2012. The target will be lowered from 81% to 75% in autumn 2014, but will then increase by 1% each year to 2017.

According to the Association of Convenience Stores, this will mean a saving of £109.6m to obligated businesses that pay for PRNs.

Commenting on the Government’s announcement, Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) chief executive Miles Beale said: “Since mid-2012 there has been a huge increase in PRN prices, which has had a significant commercial impact on our members. We hope that by lowering the PRN rates and targets this will restore stability to the market.

“For that to happen we need Defra to legislate for revised rates and targets as soon as possible. While revising recycling targets is an important step towards improving the PRN system, more needs to be done to introduce greater transparency and accountability to the market.”

UK businesses which make or use packaging have a statutory responsibility to ensure that a proportion of the packaging they place on the market is recovered and recycled. In the case of glass packaging, EU rules require 60% of waste glass to be recycled.

PRNs provide the evidence that businesses need to prove they have met the recycling rules. Businesses meet their obligations by acquiring PRNs.

In 2012 low quantities of glass being accepted for reprocessing in the first three quarters of the year put significant pressure on the market to increase glass recycling in the last quarter, according to the WSTA. As a result, prices for PRNs have risen from historically stable levels of about £10-£20 per tonne to £70-£80 per tonne and have remained around this level since.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “We welcome the reduction to the glass recycling business targets and the savings it will bring to obligated retailers. However, the Producer Responsibility Obligations are still flawed and are in need of a radical overhaul to avoid a similar situation for other materials in future.

“The packaging waste regulations create significant costs, bureaucracy and unfairness. ACS has been calling for changes to the system for a number of years, and it is disappointing that Government continues to delay the publication of its wider review of these regulations.”

Liz Gyekye

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