Local authorities have responded angrily to Government calls for them to stop collecting waste paper with other materials for recycling.
The Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee (LARAC) slammed comments made by Trade Minister Nigel Griffiths in the Commons two weeks ago.
Griffiths, Under-Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, said co-mingling makes it much more difficult to recover quality paper products.
But LARAC chairman Andy Doran hit back by saying that it was for paper mills to judge the quality of paper collections, and the Government should stay out of it.
Doran said: To say that a reduction in quality is inevitable because there has been a reduction in source-separated paper collections is just not true.
If the material is not of a suitable quality the mills would not take it, and that is no good to our members schemes.
In fact, the amount of recycling tonnage has increased, so all these kerbside schemes must be working, regardless of whether paper is source-separated or not.
LARAC will continue to work with the paper industry on this matter but our members cannot continue to innovate in order to meet their targets if they are handed a prescriptive method of collection.
Griffiths had said: I am alarmed at the trend towards mixing paper for recycling with metals, glass or other materials that contaminate the paper.
I am pressing for this trend to be reversed. Co-mingling makes it much more difficult to recover quality paper products.
Although the industry and I appreciate that the need for other vehicles to be involved in collection weighs heavily on resources and depletes our environment, I am sure that there are solutions that are cost-effective, good for the environment and good for the industry in question.
LARAC also quoted a report from the Waste and Resources Action Programme, which concluded: The fact that contamination from non-fibre material was found to be minimal for all paper grades suggests that the widespread perception of poor-quality material arising from kerbside collection systems is a fallacy.