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24th October 2022

Leading trade associations call for urgent reform to ‘broken’ business recycling system

The Packaging Recycling Note (PRN) scheme, originally designed as a cost-effective way to aid recycling for producers, hospitality and retail businesses, needs urgent reform as costs amounting to hundreds of millions of pounds have become completely unsustainable members of the British Beer and Pub Association, Wine and Spirits Trade Association, Scotch Whisky Association and the National Association of Cider Makers have said

As the UK marks recycling week, a group of leading trade associations representing hundreds of UK businesses have today written to the DEFRA Minister on behalf of their members to highlight the desperate need for reform of the PRN system.

In the letter to Trudy Harrison MP, the group noted that reform to the system needed to be brought forward and that they “should deliver greater transparency and reduce volatility and the complete imbalance between PRN buyers (who have no choice but to buy) and PRN sellers (who are under no obligation to sell).”

A Packaging Recovery Note (PRN) is documented proof that packaging material has been recovered or recycled by an accredited recycling company. Businesses are obligated to recover and recycle a proportion of their packaging handled in full each year, but recent sudden price hikes have made the process unmanageable for businesses, many of whom are worried they will not be able to meet their recycling targets as a result.

With businesses across production, retail and hospitality noting the exponential cost increases and unpredictability of the system, to the tune of hundreds of millions of pounds, the letter, signed by companies of all different sizes, calls on the Minister to reform the system and investigate potential market manipulation by PRN suppliers.

Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer and Pub Association said: 

“Brewers and pubs are keen to dispose of packaging responsibly and meet their obligations, but the broken PRN system is not providing them with the reliable, affordable process needed to do so. 

“We need urgent reform to the PRN system, as it has been extremely volatile for too long. The system is hindering not helping businesses and is putting immense pressure on our already stretched industry. We are encouraging the Government to bring forward these reforms to fix the system and relieve pressure on our brewers and pubs.”

Miles Beale, Chief Executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, said: 

“In the UK we have seen glass prices rocket Government stand by while a crisis ensues. PRNs are now unaffordable and we need the Government and the Environment Agency to implement immediate reforms to rule out fraud and bring prices down.

“If no action is taken, and these problems remain unresolved, we will see British businesses destroyed and substantial price hikes for consumers who are already facing the worst cost of living crisis in decades.”


For more information or to arrange an interview contact Jessie Powell at / 020 7627 9199

Notes to editors: 

About the British Beer & Pub Association
The BBPA represents UK companies which between them brew over 90% of the beer sold in the UK and own 20,000 pubs.

Our members include international companies, national and local brewers and pub businesses operating managed and tenanted pubs in cities, towns and villages across the country.

These businesses are at the heart of communities and local economies and include family businesses who have been brewing beer and running pubs for hundreds of years alongside emerging brewers and pub operators.

  • The UK’s beer and pub industry supports close to 940,000 jobs
  • The industry adds £26.2billion to the UK’s economy each year


About the Wine and Spirits Trade Association

The WSTA is the UK organisation for the wine and spirit industry, representing over 300 companies producing, importing, transporting and selling wine and spirits. The WSTA works with its members to promote responsible production, marketing and sale of alcohol.

For more information please contact:

Lucy Panton –

Tel: +44 (0) 207 0893875

Mobile: + 44 (0) 7776422656

Press release from the BBPA.

For more information or to arrange an interview contact Jessie Powell at / 020 7627 9199.