PackFlow Covid-19: The impact on the compliance landscape for UK packaging recycling 2020-2022

Packaging compliance specialist Valpak (a Reconomy Group Company), together with its key partners WRAP and INCPEN, has published updated PackFlow reports which estimate the amount of packaging placed on the UK market (POM) in 2019 (Phase I) and assess the impact of Covid-19 on UK packaging compliance for 2020 and through to 2022 (Phase II).

Despite concerns relating to the potential impact of COVID-19 and the associated restrictions, the report finds that overall compliance with targets proposed in the 2019 packaging consultations will be challenging yet broadly achievable. 

The PackFlow reports cover glass, metals, paper, plastic and wood and are designed to quantify how much packaging is placed on the UK market (POM) and subsequently recycled.  They are also used by UK governments to inform the setting of business recycling targets.


Will continue to deliver surplus PRNs to offset general recycling obligations. A small decline in the material placed on the market and a shift away from the higher participation commercial and industrial sector into household consumption is projected.


Volumes of material recycled are likely to be very close to the 2020 obligation.  Increased targets mean that compliance in 2021/2022 is likely to require an increased yield from existing systems or improved participation rates. Capture of non-accredited recycling would also help in meeting targets.


Faces similar challenges to glass although there are some factors that may help to mitigate the situation including signs of improved participation and the increased capture of non-accredited recycling.  New accredited energy from waste capacity will also have a positive impact.


The compliance position remains well balanced with a small surplus projected.  As recycling rates remain extremely high it is essential that a high proportion of reprocessors are accredited.  The projected decrease in POM means surpluses may be eroded and 2022 may see a small shortfall.


Proposed increased targets may not be achievable. When the participation in recycling systems is kept constant a small shortfall of PRNs is projected. If a small improvement in participation is modelled a small surplus is projected.  Much of this is not COVID-19 related but associated with broader changes in corporate and consumer behaviour.


Across all scenarios the surplus of wood packaging relative to its target narrows in 2020 and then widens in 2021 and 2022

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  • Packflow COVID-19 Metal Phase I Report FINAL v2.pdf

    PDF, 2.19 MB

  • PackFlow COVID-19 Plastic Phase I Report FINAL v2.pdf

    PDF, 1.46 MB

  • Packflow COVID-19 Paper and Card Phase I FINAL v1.pdf

    PDF, 972.45 KB

  • Packflow COVID-19 Phase II FINAL v1.pdf

    PDF, 2.84 MB

  • Packflow COVID-19 Wood Phase I Report FINAL v1.pdf

    PDF, 1.07 MB

  • Packflow COVID-19 Glass Phase I Report FINAL v2.pdf

    PDF, 999.79 KB