ECO and CL
Two of the UK’s biggest plastic recyclers have issued a cautious welcome to the publication of the Government’s new regulations for Material Recycling Facilities (MRFs), but have warned that more still needs to be done in order to safeguard the domestic industry.
Unveiled by DEFRA on February 12, the Code of Practice confirms that mandatory quality requirements for all MRFs will be introduced from October 2014. Lincolnshire-based ECO Plastics says although it and others in the industry applaud the move as an essential first step, the business is “dismayed” at the Government’s failure to back-up the regulations with other key measures.
Commenting, Jonathan Short, Deputy Chairman and founder of ECO Plastics, said: “We are pleased that the Government has understood the importance of tackling the declining quality of the UK’s waste stream and introduced a compulsory Code of Practice, and that the system will be actively policed by the Environment Agency. Full transparency through the publication of testing results is another important step that will pay dividends in increasing industry confidence.
“That said, regulations are only as valuable as the inspection process used to enforce them, and the sampling quantities and frequency of testing envisioned is a long way below what is needed to come close to robustly measuring the quality of inputs and outputs. There is a very real concern that MRFs that do not wish to comply will be able to flout the rules because of the extent to which the process has been watered down.”
Short also noted his dismay that higher quality output was automatically seen as a threat by some waste management companies. “It is frustrating that some companies have only viewed the Code from a negative perspective,” he continued. “MRFs should embrace the regulations as the tool to deliver the industry-wide improvement which will drive up the pricing of the entire market, adding value for all stakeholders. I continue to look forward to the day when I no longer receive 18 percent contamination in my feedstock.”
Also responding to the new regulations, Chris Dow, CEO of Dagenham-based Closed Loop Recycling, said: “The UK recycling industry and the wider UK economy has so much to gain from a regulatory system designed to improve the quality of material that feeds into reprocessors such as ourselves. Such a system, which is built upon transparency and regular reporting, should provide an enormous opportunity for the whole waste and recycling industry to work in partnership to really close the loop on waste – the backbone of the circular economy.”
Dow also agreed that although a starting point, there is additional work needed in order for the UK to make its mark on the wider recycling circuit. “Today’s announcement is a step in the right direction, although we’d still like to see it go further in helping us and our industry partners develop a sustainable business model where we can ensure that the UK is the recycling powerhouse of Europe,” he concluded.