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Audit emphasised MRFs huge carbon footprint, says councillor

An angry Camden councillor has rejected interpretations of an audit that suggested commingled collections were more efficient than kerbside sort (MRW June 24).

The audit examined and compared the environmental impacts of the current commingled system (2006/07) with a kerbside sort scheme used in 2005/06.

Councillor and eco champion Alexis Rowell said the audit revealed that materials recycling facilities (MRF), where commingled recyclates are sorted, have a huge carbon footprint.

Rowell said: Commingling is a disaster in environmental terms. The carbon cost of commingling has been transferred to the MRF.

He quoted the audits conclusion which said: The carbon footprint of the whole process for the commingled collection, transfer and MRF is 77% greater than for the kerbside sorted system.

Rowell added: The audit shows that commingling is the best way to collect tonnage with minimum transport movements but as soon as you do anything to that commingled recycling the carbon cost goes up dramatically so that the life cycle carbon cost is much higher.

He said that crushing recyclates in the back of trucks, then spending money to separate it at MRFs was not very green because paper gets contaminated with glass so no British papermaker can turn it into recycled paper.

He explained that the audit suggested trying separate paper and cardboard collections which could be sent directly to reprocessors.

I think we should move to a system of four collections a week: fibres (paper and cardboard); containers (metal, plastic and glass); residual waste; and food waste, he added.

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