MRFs will have a crucial role play in upping the amount of household waste that is recycled in England, according to Environmental Services Association (ESA) policy adviser for materials recovery David Sher.
Speaking at the RWM in partnership with CIWM show at the NEC, Sher said he believed that in order to carry on increasing England’s recycling rate at the same pace the quantity of waste being recycled has to increase, alongside the quality of material.
“There are lots of different floating concepts [on how to do this]. But I think MRFs are absolutely central to the ambition towards achieving a quantity target and a quality target,” he said.
“I’m a firm believer in technology. I have seen how technology has revolutionised industries that have been around for a long time. Technology moves the pace forwards and at a surprising rate.”
He said that although England’s recycling rate is set at 50% by 2020, against the Scotland and Wales targets of 70%, the England recycling targets will begin to gradually rise over time with it ultimately hitting the 70% recycling rate “at some point”.
He claimed the need to achieve higher targets will lead local authorities to begin collecting the harder-to-recycle materials such as foils, plastic films, carrier bags and textiles in addition to the current “low-hanging fruit”.
“Ultimately, we must make it easy for householders to recycle. Therefore, MRFs have an increasingly greater role to play [in waste management across the next ten years]”, Sher said.
He outlined three targets to ensure quality was tackled alongside the increase in the quantity of materials
- Achieve quality so materials can go back into high value applications, such as closed loop recycling
- Achieve quality that means recycled materials can displace virgin materials
- Create an efficient supply chain
However, he recognised there is a slight conflict between quantity and quality, as the quality of materials may decrease as larger volumes of materials go through the MRFs. The ESA is currently devising a MRF Code of Practice for industry.