The government has announced the launch of an investigation into allegations of Packaging Recovery Note fraud in response to a request from environment minister Michael Meacher.

DEFRA and the UK environment agencies will conduct a fact finding mission that will initially focus on wood packaging waste reprocessors, and may be widened to cover reprocessors of all packaging waste materials.

The exercise will look for evidence that PRNs are being issued for waste that is not packaging or for the double issuing of PRNs.

The wood reprocessing sector has raised the most suspicion as its figures have increased sharply since 2000 and are among the highest in the total UK packaging waste recycling performance. The plastics packaging waste reported figures have also caused concern.

Valpak, the UK’s largest compliance scheme, has welcomed the news. Visitors to its new online Forum have logged their support for the investigation, with comments including “this cancer of fraudulent PRN generation must be eradicated,” and “we simply do not believe that the figures for UK PRN activity in 2002 are credible.”