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Call for future Government to monitor rejected MRF materials

The Campaign for Real Recycling has written an open letter to the major political parties calling on the next Government to ensure that the monitoring of materials rejected by material recycling facility operations is tightened to create a clearer record of recycling statistics.

The CRR is also calling on the next Government to:
* Submit a parliamentary bill to require the publishing of an end use register so that people know where their recycled materials end up;
* Proper analysis of the carbon footprint of recycling systems; and
* Encouraging closed loop recycling of glass.

According to the CRR, current records of reject materials are haphazard. It states that materials are prone to being under-reported by collection bodies and no account is taken of materials rejected by MRFs or reprocessors. The CRR has called on the Government to formalise the monitoring of materials contamination by:
* Making reporting and the publishing of residual and reject tonnages of individual materials collected a legal requirement  for local authorities;
* Discounting all reject material tonnages from recycling figures recorded on Waste Data Flow [web-based system for municipal waste data reporting]; and
* The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs should publish a dry recycling rate record of local authority performance separately from the current recycling and composting records.

CRR chairman co-ordinator Andy Moore said that by urging the Government and local authorities to formalise the monitoring of materials contamination it will create a clearer record of recycling activity and performance. 

He commented: We are in a situation now where the average reject rates from single stream MRFs have been increasing over the last two or three years, the latest figure from WRAPs MRF Quality Assessment Study last November being 13%. Remember thats an average and represents a staggering waste of local authority money. We now have to ask what evidence Defra has that local authorities using commingled collections and MRFs are reporting these rejects properly to WasteDataFlow and not simply allowing them to be counted as having been recycled? This is Defras main basis of reporting of UK compliance with Article 5 (2) of the Landfill Directive and it looks shaky and open to challenge. The Government needs to tighten up its monitoring and data reporting systems. Ensuring that every local authority publishes an end use register of individual materials collected should be a starting minimum. Meanwhile local authorities who are proud of their efforts and data can put their statistics on their websites for everyone, but especially their council-tax payers, to see. The Somerset Waste Partnership website might serve as their model.

Novelis Recycling national manager Andy Doran added: Using the amount of waste collected as an indicator of what is eventually reprocessed is often inaccurate and misleading. There at least three potential stages in the fully commingled collection and sorting process at which materials could be simply lost or legitimately rejected and these are not being taken into account. Clearly this is unsatisfactory so, for the sake of clarity and precision, a change to the reporting methodology is urgently required.

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