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Are commingled collections the way forward?

Moving more towards commingled collections is seen as the way forward by Veolia Environmental Services (VES).

Speaking at the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) forum on materials recycling facilities (MRFs) this week VES managing director of recycling, disposal and energy recovery Paul Levett said: To get participation we believe we have to move further into commingled collections.

He added that commingled collections achieved better recycling yields and participation rates.
MRFs arent always the best answer but we believe that in the majority of cases they will be, he said.

But the quality of commingled material processed at MRFs was not up to scratch according to Aylesford Newsprint chief executive Alan McKendrick. He explained that 90% of Aylesfords material came from single stream kerbside collections and 10% from commingled collections where material was separated at MRFs.

McKendrick said the commingled/MRF stream was generally smelly, contaminated with food waste, and always damp and wet. He added that dirt and broken pieces of glass as well as plastic bits and glue from the commingled stream wore plant equipment and impacted heavily on the paper quality.

But Northern Ireland-based recycler Bryson House director Eric Randall said his operation found it achieved greater volumes of paper through the commingled stream. He added that it was often difficult to retrieve materials such as aluminium cans from the mass of paper going through the MRF system.

The volume, quality and collection debate is likely to be one that continues for time to come, highlighting the need for better understanding between local authorities at the collection end and the reprocessors at the market end.

The markets here are last in line, theyre not connected enough to the structure, Randall added.

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