A voluntary scheme of grading materials by composition is being proposed as part of the MRF Code of Practice consultation.
Launched at Veolia Environmental Services’ MRF in Southwark by Environment Minister Lord De Mauley, the consultation intends to make the MRF Code of Practice mandatory.
This will mean that MRFs handling more than 1,000 tonnes per annum will be required “to put in place robust quality management systems and checks which will yield information on non-target and non-recyclable levels of the inputs and outputs to the facility by material type (i.e. paper, glass, plastic and metal). It will also ensure that outputs from MRFs meet the quality specifications of their customers and that there are requirements for the quality management systems to be audited by an independent auditor”.
WRAP has been tasked with developing a set of gradings for each material based on a percentage of contamination. As an example, it gives a suggestion that Grade A material could be considered as meeting end-of-waste critieria, while the grading could also be aligned to enforcement of export controls or the PRN/PERN system.
The lower grade limit could also represent what is broadly considered as the maximum amount of non-target and non-recyclable material that is acceptable.
The Quality Action Plan that was launched alongside the MRF Code of Practice also proposes greater Environment Agency enforcement of the waste shipment controls using information on the quality and destination of MRF outputs delivered by the proposed MRF regulations.
Defra will also work with SEPA, National Resource Wales and NIEA on potentially establishing best practice guidance on an upper threshold of contamination for export material.
It will also look for more transparency on public reporting of illegal consignments of waste.
Speaking at the launch, Lord De Mauley said: “There has been a quiet revolution in the volume of recycling collected, processed and traded. Quality is perhaps as important.
“There is a strong business and environmental case to drive up quality. The right levels of quality will drive access to more markets. Better quality will attract higher prices in both domestic and export markets.
“But it would be wrong to put unnecessary constraints on exports, so we must maintain a level playing field between UK and export markets.”
The quality action plan is available here: http://www.defra.gov.uk/publications/2013/02/01/pb13875-qap-recycling/
The full consultation is available here:http://www.defra.gov.uk/consult/2013/02/01/mrf-env-permit-consult-0201/
Companies and organisations have until 26 April 2013 to respond to the consultation.