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UK aluminum packaging recycling exceeded target in 2019: Alupro

London — UK aluminum packaging recycling exceeded its target of 112,200 mt in 2019, recycling organization Alupro said Wednesday.

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Provisional figures from the UK's Environment Agency indicated 114,748 mt of aluminum packaging was collected for recycling, up 15% from 2018, Alupro said.

"We anticipate that the final reported figure will be higher, which has been the case in previous years," Rick Hindley, executive director for Alupro, said in a statement.

"Due to be finalized in March 2020, the data indicates that Q4 was the strongest quarter of the year and the highest ever reported across the 12-month period with approximately 34,000 mt of aluminum packaging being recycled," Alupro said.

"This exceeds the target and is anticipated to provide a significant carry forward towards next year's increased targets," it said.

UK targets for aluminum packaging recycling and recovery have been rising steadily, set at 55% for 2017, 58% for 2018, 61% for 2019 and 64% for this year.

The group raised concerns, however, about price levels of Packaging Recovery Notes, which are certificates of evidence that prove a ton of packaging waste has been recovered and reprocessed or exported.

Under UK regulations, businesses that handle packaging must finance the recovery and recycling of packaging materials in proportion to the amount they have placed on the market.

PRNs are sold on an open market, which means prices fluctuate according to supply and demand.

"Quarterly data released by the Environment Agency in 2019 consistently suggested that a significant volume of Packaging Recovery Notes were being raised but not issued. This resulted in inflated PRN prices, peaking at over GBP500/mt ($654) and undermining the credibility of aluminum as a material with enviable recycling credentials," Alupro said.

The data "clearly suggests that the aluminum PRN market has been distorted", Hindley said.

"The abnormally high PRN price has significantly impacted producers and once again brings into question the system itself," he said, adding: "Aluminum is a sustainable material, yet the market distortion caused by organizations holding back PRNs in order to force prices to artificially high levels, undermines the aluminum packaging industry."

A joint industry letter was sent to the UK Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs in December, "highlighting the concerns shared across the retail food and drink manufacturers and packaging manufacturers, including British Retail Consortium and Food and Drink Federation, in relation to the negative impact of the enormous PRN price increases," Alupro said.