Commingled collections to be allowed if material quality meets recyclers specifications, plus MRF Code of Practice to be made mandatory


A change will be made to the Waste Regulations 2011 on the separate collection of recycling that will clarify that commingled collections will continue to be allowed.

This will happen once a consultation launched yesterday by Defra and the Welsh Government is completed and if it is backed in the consultation.


However, it has also been signalled that both Defra and the Welsh Government intend to make the MRF Code of Practice mandatory to ensure high quality material comes from commingled collections.

Following the Judicial Review which challenged the inclusion of commingled collections as a form of separate collection in Regulation 13, Defra and the Welsh Government have said that drafting changes are needed to ensure that the Waste Regulations 2011 reflect their understanding of the revised Waste Framework Directive more clearly.

In the consultation letter, Defra and the Welsh Government stated: “An integral part of the Directive’s requirements on the separate collection of recycling are the concepts of what is technically, environmentally and economically practicable, and of appropriate quality standards. It is both Defra’s and the Welsh Government’s intention to provide guidance on these issues.”

Both Defra and the Welsh Government are proposing to introduce a new regulation 13, which will read as follows:


Duties in relation to collection of waste


13.–            (1) This regulation applies from 1st January 2015.

                (2) Subject to paragraph (4), an establishment or undertaking which collects waste, paper, metal, plastic or glass must do so by way of separate collection.

            (3) Subject to paragraph (4), every waste collection authority must, when making arrangements for the collection of waste, paper, metal, plastic or glass, ensure that those arrangements are by way of separate collection.

            (4) The duties in this regulation apply where separate collection is-

                        (a) technically, environmentally and economically practicable; and

                        (b) necessary to meet the appropriate quality standards for the       relevant recycling sectors.”


Defra  and the Welsh Government have said in the consultation letter that there will be a general obligation to introduce separate collection, but if it is not “technically, environmentally and economically practicable” to do so, then commingled collection will be allowed.

The letter said: “This means that the general presumption is separate collection of paper, glass, metals and plastics by 2015. However, this is not required if it is not practicable (as set out in regulation 13(4)(a)) or necessary (as set out in 13(4)(b)). Therefore, if collection systems other than separate collection (e.g involving some form of co-collection of recyclables) can deliver material that meets the appropriate quality standards for the relevant recycling sectors then that fulfils the obligation. The fact that the proposed draft amending regulations no longer refer expressly to commingled collections does not mean that such collection is not possible, in cases where the obligation for separate collection does not apply.”

Also, Annex B of the consultation letter revealed that Defra and the Welsh Government are developing a programme of work to deliver improvements in the quality of recycling that will address this requirement as part of national waste management plans.

It added: “It is our belief that the market should deliver quality, but we are looking at ways to address market failures and to get the supply chain working together to help facilitate this…

“…An important part of this work is the proposed Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) code of practice. The Environmental Services Association (ESA) has developed a MRF code of practice, and Defra and the Welsh Assembly Government are currently considering how to develop the code to make it mandatory, and discuss a further draft of the code with key players in the supply chain (particularly reprocessors and local authorities) over the coming months.

“If we are minded to make the code mandatory, this would be subject to a consultation, likely to take place in summer 2012. The MRF code of practice will see increased information and transparency to MRF customers (local authorities and reprocessors) on information such as quality and composition of recyclates. This will help the supply chain to operate more efficiently, increasing visibility of where waste and recycling ends up.”

Responses to the consultation are sought by close on Thursday 12 April 2012.  


Want to find out more about this? Then attend the Achieving High Quality and High Value Recycling conference and networking event on 21 March at Warwick Racecourse.


David Sher, head of policy at the ESA, will be speaking about the MRF code of practice, Steve Creed from WRAP will present on WRAP’s programmes on quality, while there will also be presentations from recyclers Chris Dow from Closed Loop Recycling and Ranjit Baxi from J&H Sales International. Bill Griffiths from Viridor and Kevin Thomas from Casepak will present on optimising MRF’s for quality.


Book for just £299+VAT at