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Axion calls for larger sample sizes in MRF data

The samples sizes used to determine the waste output of MRFs in WRAP’s Reporting Portal should be increased to ensure that it is truly representative, according to Axion Polymers.

In July, WRAP released the first data from the new reporting regime for MRF operators in England and Wales.

The mandatory regime follows revisions to the Code of Practice that came into force in October 2014 for operators handling more than 1,000 tonnes of material a year.

The operators are obliged to take samples of their input and output and send quarterly reports to the Environment Agency (EA).

Axion senior engineer Richard McKinlay said: “Ensuring that samples are truly representative can be challenging and the sizes outlined in the MRF regulations are quite small. It would be helpful to see if there is any scope to increase these in the future.”

Concerns were raised by the EA and Defra, following the portal’s public release, that some operators were failing to register for the scheme. The EA said it would be urging them to sign up.

But McKinlay praised the majority of operators who “have been well prepared” with “good quality equipment and sorting stations”.

He said: “While there are some anomalies in the data, considering this is the first round of reporting, the industry appears to have done very well and this level of effort should be acknowledged.

“Displaying the confidence levels is really beneficial – it demonstrates that sampling is not an exact science and you cannot report a single figure to represent the composition of a waste stream.

“As this data is very valuable to MRFs, they should ensure they make good use of it and not just see it as a reporting obligation. For example, it can be used to determine underperforming sorting units or identify material streams where additional value can be recovered.”

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