Wrap criticises mills over recovered paper standards

The government’s Waste and Resources Action Programme has called for clearer quality standards for recovered materials, particularly for paper. It warns that if mills do not do this, they risk seeing more material being exported abroad.

The warning follows its review of recent studies looking at best practice at materials recovery facilities (MRFs) in the US and Europe.1WRAP emphasised the importance of MRFs producing consistently high quality materials to ensure maximum value is obtained from recycling.

It found the quality standards for paper set in the UK "do not have the clarity" of specifications used abroad, with most developed through bilateral arrangements between individual facilities.

Many UK MRFs are guided by "rather broad" criteria that vary for individual reprocessors and are not enforced effectively. A common testing procedure should be adopted so that mills can assess the quality of material coming from MRFs. This could improve the quality of materials received and help ensure higher prices for good quality materials.

The report also says MRF gate fees should vary to reward local authorities whose collections contain low levels of contamination. Authorities should be fined, say £90 per tonne, for materials rejected during processing due to contamination.

WRAP is also assessing MRF capacity to identify where extra capacity is most likely to be needed in future.

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