The Environment Agency has issued a warning that it will be able to cancel packaging recovery notes (PRNs) and packaging (export) recovery notes (PERNs) issued by accredited reprocessers or exporters that are found to be ‘incorrect’ from July 2021.
Packaging recovery notes are certificates of evidence that prove a tonne of packaging waste has been recovered and reprocessed or exported. They act as a substitute for businesses meeting their obligation through their own recycling efforts.
In a letter clarifying its position on how it will respond to incorrect PRNs, the Environment Agency has said it would first request that the reprocessor or exporter corrects the data via a waste adjustment. Alternatively, they can agree with the packaging producer or scheme to remove the incorrect PRNs/PERNs from the National Packaging Waste Database, where data on compliance is logged.
In exceptional circumstances, and where the non-compliance is of a significant risk to the regime, the Environment Agency has said it may escalate an enforcement response to cancellation of reprocessor/exporter accreditation and prosecution. In such circumstances, from 1 July 2021 onwards, the Environment Agency reserves the right to remove (cancel) incorrect PRNs/PERNs from the regime.
The cancellation of a PRN may be as a result of breaches of conditions of accreditation and/or offences committed under the regulations, for example, but not limited to:
- Evidence issued on non-packaging material
- Evidence issued on non UK packaging
- Evidence issued under the wrong material type or for the wrong amount
- Evidence issued in respect of packaging received or exported before the reprocessor or exporter was accredited
- Evidence issued on material exported to non-approved overseas reprocessors
- Evidence issued on material exported in breach of Transfrontier Shipments of Waste (TSF) requirements
- Evidence issued on material that cannot be demonstrated to have been recycled
- Evidence issued fraudulently
The latest date the Environment Agency would seek to cancel incorrect PRNs/PERNs would be 31 January in the year following the relevant compliance period. This mirrors the regulatory deadline for packaging compliance schemes and packaging producers to obtain the required evidence to meet their obligation.
Trade with confidence
David Honcoop, Clarity Environmental’s Managing Director and Founder, explains that Clarity can reassure both those it trades with and its packaging compliance members of the work it is doing to ensure safe and quality evidence for its customers.
He said:”The PRN system has long been criticised for a lack of transparency, with far too much opportunity for fraudulent activities. The absence of any quality indicators or standards has put buyers in an extremely vulnerable position, with recycling evidence being blindly bought by compliance schemes and direct registrants. Ultimately, we must take steps to put people and the environment first, and this requires us to work with the system and align with the regulatory efforts to ensure PRNs are traceable and legitimate.