The EA has been running a number of projects looking at waste that is exported, its quality and its destination. By law, mixed waste cannot be exported from the UK and recyclables for export should be clean and sorted to be deemed green list waste.
Speaking at a Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) MRF dissemination event, EA project manager John Burns said: We dont think ports are where we will have the best effect. Our thinking is that we need to look upstream.
With a hundreds of thousands of containers moving waste from the UK to China each year, Burns said of the port checking system: We are only ever going to see a very small percentage of these containers.
He added: We want to focus our regulatory efforts on ensuring that waste to be exported is what it claims to be. The thought is that ensuring materials quality earlier in the chain, at the sorting stage, will ensure its sound use further down the chain.
With around 120 MRFs in England and Wales, the EA hopes to add MRF quality checks to its regular day job of visiting the sites.
We see getting the quality of materials right as absolutely key, Burns said.