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Lord de Mauley: Councils need to tackle low quality mixed glass

Resource minister Lord de Mauley has urged councils in England and Wales to actively address issues around low quality glass from commingled collections before the amended Waste Regulations come into force in 2015.

400-Lord de Mauley

De Mauley (left) wrote to the Local Government Association, National Association for Waste Disposal Officers, Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning & Transport and Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee to highlight issues around glass that is not sorted to a high enough standard in some MRFs.

In his letter, he said: “At present many of our existing MRFs struggle to keep glass shards out of the paper stream. In addition many MRFs produce low quality mixed glass which needs further sorting and can be uneconomic to re-smelt.”

He also said local authorities should look “actively to address these problems, by the effective implementation of the new regulations and by tackling problems with operating practices”.

De Mauley’s comments echoed those of Colin Church, Defra’s director of resource, atmosphere and sustainability, who told MRW last month that it will most likely be necessary for local authorities to collect glass separately from other materials from 2015.

From 1 January 2015, waste collection authorities must collect waste paper, metal, plastic and glass separately, unless they can demonstrate that it is not necessary to ensure the appropriate level of quality, or/and it is not technically, environmentally and economically practicable (TEEP).

This legislation is set out under The Waste (England and Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2012, which are transposed from the EU’s revised Waste Framework Directive.

De Mauley stated in his letter “we fully support the new requirements for the seperate collection of waste paper, plastic, glass, and metal” because of the need to reach the EU’s target of recycling 50% of all household waste by 2020.

The letter came ahead of the much-anticipated MRF Code of Practice this winter, which aims to drive up the quality of MRF output.

He also warned that councils considering commingling instead of a separate collection or including glass in a commingled collection should “consult their lawyers, and should keep a clear audit trail given the potential for legal challenge”.

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