Defra proposes PRN system reform

September 25, 2018


A Resources and Waste Strategy is due to be published in the UK by the end of 2018, and the UK Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) has proposed to make the Packaging Recovery Note (PRN) packaging waste management regime a major part of the Strategy.


A PRN is purchased by producers placing packaging on the UK market as part of their EPR system, and it serves to provide evidence that waste packaging material has been recycled.


However, critics have raised concerns about a lack of incentives for eco-design as well as a lack of transparency over how PRN revenue is actually spent.


PRN reform will address:


  • How products can be made more resource-efficient

  • How consumers purchase and use products

  • How products are handled during disposal


Defra is considering four approaches for reform:


  • Market-based: compliance schemes contract with local municipalities on a full net cost recovery basis

  • Deposit-based: producers pay a deposit on all packaging placed on the market, with refunds issued when packaging is proven to have been recycled

  • Non-profit material funding: NPOs would provide a set level of funding for materials collected, covering both municipal and non-municipal packaging waste

  • Non-profit municipal funding: NPOs would provide a set level of funding for municipal and similar materials collected, but would use a system similar to the current PRN for commercial and industrial packaging


There will be a stakeholder consultation in a few months. Defra says it may take up to 2 years to implement changes.


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