A report undertaken by the Resource Association has highlighted the cost burden on UK reprocessors and manufacturers resulting from poor and inconsistent quality of recyclate.
The Costs of Contamination Report 2012 contains a conservative estimate that over £51 million a year of costs are associated with the management of poor and inconsistent quality recyclate. This represents an average of £15.67 per tonne for over 3 million tonnes of reprocessing capacity featured in the survey.
All nine reprocessor members of the Resource Association participated in the research. They represent around half of the UK reprocessing capacity that exists for paper and card, plastics, aluminium and glass.
Resource Association chairman Andy Doran said: “This report clearly shows the extent to which poor and inconsistent quality of recyclate adds real cost for the UK manufacturing base. This represents a missed opportunity for the UK – it is a cost burden that hampers investment and costs jobs, all to the detriment of the UK green economy.”
Its chief executive Ray Georgeson added: “The drive for quantity has come in part at the expense of quality, and what might be seen as the delivery of cost savings at the collection end of recycling appears simply to be shifting costs in the manufacturing end of recycling. We question how long must the UK reprocessing sector carry this burden.”
As a result the Resource Association is calling for:
- A fresh look at the whole municipal recycling supply chain, including action to better regulate the output of MRFs
- This must include a mandatory MRF Code of Practice that demonstrably improves the quality of UK MRF output through a robust system of monitoring, material sampling and unannounced inspections
- Further robust action by regulators to enforce TFS Regulations and ensure that all recyclate exported meets legal quality requirements – doing this would undoubtedly lead to quality improvements in the recylate also destined for UK reprocessors
- More research by Government and its agencies to understand better the relationship between collection systems, public behaviour and contamination of recyclate – with the purpose of improving communications and operational practice to deliver better quality.