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MRF code consultation delayed

Defra officials have missed their own deadline to launch a consultation on a MRF code of practice.

Negotiations on the contentious proposals have been ongoing for months involving representatives of waste management firms, MRF operators, recyclers and reprocessors.

MRW revealed in May that Defra planned to begin consulting on a proposed quality action plan and code of practice in August.

Waste minister Lord Taylor later confirmed the August launch date.

A Defra spokesman told MRW he was now unable to give a timeline for the consultation launch but said it would happen “in due course”.

The code aims to boost confidence in the quality of materials output from recovery facilities and is key to the Government’s attempts to allow commingled collections.

Minutes from Defra-hosted negotiations attended by nearly 30 senior industry figures were leaked to MRW in May. The documents showed officials were willing to consider a less strenuous regime for proven high performers.

Other key points from the notes from the meeting include:

  • Defra plans to consult on the code in August with a view to laying legislation before Parliament by 2013 and bringing laws into force in April 2014.
  • Defra wants the code to be mandatory to ensure “a level playing field, scale of uptake [and] certainty of uptake”.
  • A pilot scheme has been floated, although the Environmental Services Association told MRW it was against this. 
  • Defra is set to convene a working group to go through issues surrounding sampling sizes and frequencies. Sources told MRW this would prove a “thorny issue which would be hard to get agreement on”.
  • Defra said it wanted to amend the term ‘contamination’ to ‘non target’ “to avoid negative connotations in [communications] with householders and reflect an ability to recycle an increasing range of materials”.
  • A Defra presentation said the department was “considering various options for defining sampling frequency…[including the] potential to allow reduced sampling frequency once consistency of output has been demonstrated”.

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