In view of allegations of inappropriate packaging waste recovery note issue by some reprocessors, I have asked my officials to conduct an investigation.
As my right hon. Friend knows, the price of packaging recovery notes for wood products slumped towards the end of last year and is quite low. There are another two issues facing wood recyclers: first, the subsidy offered by power generators for biofuels to use in power stations, where they can offer higher prices than board and wood products users. Secondly, there is the proposed removal of a packaging waste recovery target for wood products. We have heard today about the exploitation of forests in the far east. Is it not time that we did more to encourage wood products recycling, rather than allowing barriers to occur?
The latest figures show a very substantial increase in the recovery and recycling of wood packaging waste. It was reported at a rate of 57 per cent. in 2001. The latest figures for 2002 are 84 per cent. That shows a substantial uplift, so large that there have been suspicions of an inappropriate allocation and use of packaging waste recovery notes. That is what I have asked my Department to investigate. I accept my hon. Friend's point about the slump in PRN prices. I have told the industry that under the EU packaging waste regulations, there will be a considerable increase in those targets, probably of the order of 60 to 65 per cent. by 2006–08. In the light of that, further investment needs to be made now in readiness to meet those higher targets. On that basis, I hope that PRN prices will begin to recover.