In a statement issued shortly after the launch of the campaign (click here to read story), LARAC said that recycling quality is not the black and white issue the campaign is portraying and that the message portrayed by the campaign could have the negative effect of putting the public off from recycling instead of using the collection systems local authorities provide.
LARAC chair Lee Marshall said: We agree that on the whole the more materials are kept separate the more markets you can find for them and the more value they are likely to have.
However, a standard definition of quality is fit for purpose and the majority of local authorities design their collection schemes around the end market they will be supplying, which are not always the top end applications.
What we as local authorities need to be wary of is that the markets for commingled may be more susceptible to changes in price and external factors and this should be considered when we design collection schemes.
The organisation, which represents a majority of local authority recycling officers in the UK, said that materials recycling facilities (MRFs) often provide high quality materials that are then bought by some of the organisations involved in the campaign.
Marshall added: This does feel a bit like another example of local authorities being talked at rather than being talked to. What we need to do is work together with materials organisations to ensure local authorities get the best advice in terms of how we handle materials to keep the quality to the level needed by the various end markets.
This involves MRF, transfer and bulking operations not only collection methods. This campaign, while I am sure is well meaning, could have the effect of drawing local authority officers off to combat public concern over what is real of not real recycling rather than working on the very quality issues the campaign says it supports. LARAC will work with the organisations and others such as WRAP on this issue but that needs to be open and constructive dialogue with each other and not with local authorities being told how to do things.