Calls to prioritise investment in quality collections to cushion industry from market downturns have come from the Campaign for Real Recycling (CRR).
The organisation welcomed Government recognition that quality was key, following the recent Waste & Resources Action Programmes International Markets event.
CRR campaign coordinator Andy Moore said: Markets for low quality material are indeed going to be squeezed as export markets collapse.
To create more resilience for the future we now need an incentive to invest in collection systems that prioritise quality in order to feed an expansion in UK reprocessing. This means transparency of material journey and destination, especially through materials recycling facilities. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs needs to do more than just call for more interest in a voluntary scheme: it needs to require transparency in future.
Moore said it would be interesting to see what happened to the low quality material from single-stream, compacted collections.
The media has been looking for stories of collected recyclables being landfilled. If they start to find such instances as a result of lost export markets, all recycling, quality oriented or not, could be tarred with the same brush. Both business and the environment will be the losers, he said.