Earlier this month, the Environment Agency, published its 2022 compliance monitoring and enforcement activity report which revealed that the agencies interventions effectively “disrupted” £10.4 million worth of packaging recovery notes (PRNs).
In 2022, the Environment Agency conducted audits on a total of 176 reprocessors or exporters. The findings revealed that 20 of these entities faced suspensions, while four faced accreditation cancellations. These numbers reflect a notable 9% rise in suspensions and cancellations compared to the previous year.
The Agency said this message was “communicated to the industry” in order to inform them of reduced PRN availability and to “send a deterrent message on the consequences of non-compliance”.
Currently the EA estimates that waste crime costs the UK economy £924m per year with 18% of waste handled illegally at some point. This is equivalent to 34 million tonnes of waste per annum, and with just 25% of waste crimes reported, there is still a way to go before meeting the “audacious ambition” of eliminating waste crime all together.
In July 2021 the Environment Agency (EA) announced their position on fraudulently issued or unethical PRNs. In a letter clarifying their position, the EA stated they would be taking action against organisations who purchase or sell recycling evidence which are considered to be illegitimate.
Since adopting a new strategy in 2021, the EA have taken on “more proactive and preventive activities aimed at targeting the criminals and deterring future offenders.”
Waste crime, taking many forms, is described as “fly-tipping, illegal dumping or burning of waste, deliberate misdescription of waste, operation of illegal waste management sites, and illegal waste export”.
Waste crime also includes the misrepresentation of waste, selling or purchasing illegitimate Packaging Recovery Notes (PRNs) or Packaging Export Recovery Notes (PERNs), as well as other associated crimes such as human trafficking and forced labour.