The provisional packaging recycling and export data for Q3 has been published on the National Packaging Waste Database (NPWD), reporting the amount of packaging waste recycled or exported between July and September 2020.
Quarter 3 data is crucial in calculating how the UK is likely to end the year, providing a good indication of how the figures might reflect in the price of PRNs in the final months of the year. Overall, we continue to see strong production across all grades through Quarter 3.
Paper has had its strongest production quarter of the year so far – a likely result of the shift in consumer habits, with a rise in e-commerce where products are often delivered in cardboard packaging. With 123,000 tonnes more in Q3 than the previous quarter, paper has now achieved 96% of its recycling target for 2020 with carry over. With other grades also performing well this year, it is likely there will be no shortage in availability to fulfil the general recycling obligation and we are seeing paper PRN prices soften as a result.
Wood has also had its strongest quarter of the year, with 169,587 tonnes recovered. Despite concerns for wood during lockdown, the Q3 figures suggest a good recovery as restrictions have eased.
The most recent September monthly data showed much lower levels of plastic than had been reported in previous months, however the Q3 data has added around 47,000 tonnes to the already reported figures for July, August and September, making it a strong quarter overall. Plastic PRN prices had already softened as a result of data released on 10th October, and the Q3 release now suggests the price pattern will maintain or soften further. We will now need to keep an eye on whether these PRN prices are enough to sustain the levels of recycling required to achieve targets in 2021.
Martin Trigg-Knight, head of packaging at Clarity Environmental, commented on the data: “Given the continued impact of the Covid-19 pandemic both in the UK and overseas, we have remained cautious this year, despite continued positive data. And while it is possible that we will see waste collections and export facilities impacted by remaining restrictions across the UK, most grades look likely to end the year comfortably on target, going into the 2021 compliance year with positive carry over tonnage. PRN prices for many grades have responded, softening off throughout the quarter.”
It is important to note that the Q3 data is unverified until the beginning of November and the figures could change in the coming weeks.