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Definition and development of functional barriers for the use of recycled materials in multilayer food packaging

TECHNOLOGICAL WATCH

Type of information: NEWS

In this section, you can access to the latest technical information related to the BANUS project topic.

PRN controversy intensifies after environmental consultants Eunomia accuse recyclers of bulking out figures by a third

Eunomia, an environmental consultancy which provides waste management analysis to the Government and European Commission, has suggested Britain’s recycling rate is overestimated, and the UK likely missed the EU packaging recovery targets up to 2012. 

Its report Plastic Packaging – Shedding Light, also says much of Britain’s PCR may be of such poor quality it cannot be usefully recycled. It also highlighted concerns from councils that waste packaging producers are not paying their fair share of the £2.8 billion cost of reprocessing or disposal.

In July, British Plastics and Rubber reported a statement from recyclers Vanden, claiming weighbridge records are regularly being skewed upwards, either through contamination or PRN fraud.

Packaging Recovery Notes (PRN) are paid by recyclers and packagers to contribute to expand recycling.

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Weighbridge with a Scania Scania P420 container lorry entering recycling plant, Ronneby, Blekinge

Defra says the scheme raised £50m in 2016. The cash was to be used for "capacity building" in the recycling system through increasing collection and processing of recyclables.

The report goes on to identify where problems occur in the system, particularly the trainsition between clean virgin plastic packaging and PCR contaminatied weights padded out by labels, liquids and foodstuffs.

Eunomia's report also states: “Another problem highlighted is that the UK packaging producer responsibility system is designed simply to deliver compliance with recycling target at the lowest possible cost to industry. In some other European countries, producers meet the full cost of household recycling systems: the report suggests that the UK system means that businesses cover at most 10 per cent of the cost of providing the household recycling service they rely on to deliver compliance.”

Dominic Hogg, Eunomia Chairman, said: “It’s not really surprising to find that the UK’s recycling rate for plastics is not as good as is claimed. The scheme supports the reporting of compliance at low cost, rather than achieving high quality recycling of plastic packaging. The disparities between datasets indicate that the existing scheme gives a weak foundation on which to base the recycling figures. The existing system of producer responsibility is failing. It has allowed problems with plastic packaging to grow, and it in its most basic responsibility – demonstrating compliance with a target – the data cannot be trusted.”

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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for Research, technological development and demonstration (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement n° [606572].

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