A guide containing advice on the impact of commingled collections on the quality of recyclate has been published by the Resource Association.
The ‘contamination value chart’ summaries the reprocessors’ views on the consequences of mixing materials together in terms of contamination and prices, on a six-level scale.
It ranges from recyclates which can be reasonably mixed together without impacting on price (level 0) to those materials that when mixed together will lead to rejection by reprocessors (6).
For example, collecting recyclables such as aluminium and steel cans or plastics bottles with organic waste will most likely result in level 5, which represents “maximum price reduction” and “potential rejection” by reprocessors.
Mixing glass and paper packaging would also lead to a medium to high price reduction, according to the guide.
The chart is the second phase of the Recycling Information Point (ReQIP), a document listing the contamination levels deemed acceptable by reprocessors to produce high quality recycling.
“Local authorities and companies responsible for the collection and sale of recyclate want to know the impact that specific contaminants have on value,” said Ray Georgeson, chief executive at the Resource Association.
“This development of the ReQIP project provides a comprehensive account of UK reprocessor requirements, which we hope will inform decisions at a crucial stage of the secondary materials supply chain,” he added.
The project also aims at assisting local authorities taking decisions on their collection methods as the new Waste Framework Directive comes into force next year. The regulations mandate to collect glass, plastics, metal and paper separately unless it is not technically, economically or environmentally practicable (TEEP) to do so.
In a recent briefing note, the Environment Agency recommended councils to use ReQIP to make their TEEP assessments.
ReQIP has been coordinated by industry specialist Peter Mansfield & Associates and uses information from 36 reprocessor companies and associations.
Chris Dow, chief executive at plastic reprocessor Closed Loop Recycling, described the system as a “benchmark for high quality recycling”.
“This is an important development for local authorities who will now understand the impact that different collection systems can have on the recycling stream and how they can achieve maximum value from the materials they collect,” he said.