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Poor quality hitting recycling value says report


A new report has said that the UK is missing out on extracting greater value from recyclable materials both in the domestic and export markets due to poor quality.

The report, produced by the Associate Parliamentary Sustainable Resource Group and produced following an inquiry chaired by former Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman MP, warns a lack of quality in the waste supply chain is limiting the UK’s export options and potentially holding back investment in domestic infrastructure.

It argues that a greater drive in demand for recycled materials needs to be created within the UK marketplace.

The Exporting Opportunity? Putting UK Waste to Work at Home and Abroad report also calls for reform of the PRN/PERN system to ensure the export market isn’t incentivised over the domestic market.

It also questions where opportunities lie for RDF and SRF fuels for the benefit of the UK and investigates its use in export to European countries.

Caroline Spelman said: “The UK has made huge improvements in recent years and in how it manages its waste and the sector is justifiably now seen as one of the UK’s economic and environmental ‘good news’ stories. Nevertheless, important reforms and improvements are still needed.

“This report makes recommendations to central government and industry on how to build the most economically and environmentally robust system for waste and materials treatment, whether it be in the UK or abroad.

“We hope that adoption of these recommendations will result in a more streamlined and robust management of our resources, and provide further steps towards the development of a truly resource efficient economy.”

Proposals include:

  • Export of recyclate: calling for reform of the methodology underpinning the issuing of Notes within the PRN/PERN system, in order to address inconsistencies between the costliness of recycling in the UK versus export for recycling and proposing the investigation of a PRN offset system to drive demand for recycled content in packaging manufacturing in the UK
  • Export of waste-derived fuels: urging DCLG, BIS and DfT to work together to encourage Local Enterprise Partnerships to carry forward the Regional Development Agencies in relation to energy from waste and identify opportunities for co-location and heat use
  • Quality, enforcement, collaboration: recommending the waste industry work more closely with the Environment Agency to provide enhanced training and expertise to staff involved in the inspection of waste sites and shipments.