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MRF code ‘not a panacea’

The upcoming Material Recovery Facilities (MRF) Code of Practice will be helpful to improve intra-industry relationships but will not be a “panacea”, the manager of a 13-council waste partnership said at RWM Exhibition 2013.

Paul Vanston

In a panel discussing the scope of the code, Paul Vanston, manager at Kent Resource Partnership (left), praised the potential of the code to help in bridging  what he described as a “massive gap” between local authorities’ collection and reprocessors’ output.

“However,” he said, “what the code can’t do is to take in one leap the Grand Canyon that exists between the collection from home through to the reprocessor customers’ requirements.”

Vanston pointed out that reprocessor customers demanded products with contamination levels in the range of parts per million, per billion, and in some case even in parts per trillion, which were impossible for local authorities to provide and on which the code of practice would have limited influence.

Vanston nonetheless acknowledged the importance of the code as a tool to improve transparency on MRF contamination levels and to make market data accessible.

Asked whether the introduction of the code could lead to more council waste bales being rejected by MRFs, he said that it was a possibility, but the information deriving from increasing rejection rates was worth having as it highlighted problems that local authorities could address.

The MRF code of practice for England and Wales will require operators to measure and report material stream compositions to provide information to reprocessors and local authorities.

Defra and the Welsh Government launched a consultation on a draft proposal of the code and a complementary Quality Action Plan in February 2013.

The statutory elements of the code are set to come into force on 6 April 2014.

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