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Commingled recycling collections and the use of materials recycling facilities (MRFs) are part of UK recycling infrastructure so we need to work with this to improve quality, The Recycling Association has said.

In response to a statement issued by the Confederation of Paper Industries (CPI) that it would prefer source separation of corrugated cardboard in order to improve quality, The Recycling Association has welcomed the focus on quality, but disagrees on the approach.

The Recycling Association chief executive Simon Ellin said: “Of course we share the desire of CPI to improve quality of material, and our Quality First campaign has been designed to help just that.

“While CPI has a preference for source separated collection, The Recycling Association members recognise that there are lots of benefits to commingled collection and we must work with all types of collection systems to improve quality.

“Indeed, the WRAP work on consistency of collection will make a big contribution to this, and as an industry we must push for its implementation.

“But the use of MRFs has contributed to capturing more material by making it easier for households to recycle. In turn, this has contributed to higher recycling rates. It is also important to remember that source separated collections may not be possible everywhere, particularly in some urban areas where space for a number of recycling containers is more limited.

“With around half of councils collecting material commingled, it isn’t practical to implement only source separated collection, so we need to focus on quality from whatever system has been implemented.

“There are a number of very good MRFs out there that produce very good quality material. In particular, demand for mixed papers from UK MRFs remains strong from both UK and global paper mills.

“But there are also MRFs that are outputting poor quality material, and we need to work with these so that they improve. We also need to ensure that input quality improves and this applies with source separated, dual stream and commingled collections. If input quality improves then output quality will also improve.

“The whole supply chain is responsible for improving quality from the manufacturer, the retailer, to the waste collection companies, the recyclers, the local authorities and the householder. By every part of this working together, that is how we improve quality.

“The Recycling Association and CPI have held discussions about a joint approach to quality that will provide a partnership and a consistent approach across the sectors we represent, and I look forward to continuing those discussions.”


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