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Zero Waste Scotland to study contamination levels of separate collection

Zero Waste Scotland, WRAP’s Scottish arm, has commissioned a nationwide study to assess the level of contamination of separately collected household and C&I recyclable materials.

RPS Consulting Engineers will examine the level of contamination of paper, card, glass, plastics and metals collected separately from 162 sites across the UK, including local authorities, bulking stations, transfer stations, and reprocessors. The study started in mid-June and will be completed by the end of September 2013.

The research will help in creating a benchmark for quality levels to compare the collections of sorted and commingled recyclable materials ahead of Scotland’s new waste regulations coming into force.

The Waste (Scotland) Regulations, which were approved by the Scottish Parliament in May 2012, require all businesses to separate paper and card, plastic, metal and glass for recycling, and councils to provide separate collections at the kerbside by January 2014, except where it can be demonstrated that commingled collection can achieve similar levels of quality.

The research will provide the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) with indications on how to enforce the new regulations.

“SEPA welcomes this study as we will require good baseline information to help target our regulatory efforts where they will most effectively support high quality recycling,” said Gary Walker, principal policy officer at SEPA.

He added that the study will also enable local authorities and waste management contractors to determine whether their collection systems are “sufficiently robust” to deliver the required quantity and quality of recyclate.

A Zero Waste Scotland spokesperson told MRW that a nationwide study was preferred to one focused on Scotland for several reasons.

“Given that recyclate is not boundary restricted, for example Scotland recyclates can be collected and processed in West Midlands and vice versa, due to the limited number of local authorities that source separate in Scotland compared to the rest of the UK, and given the importance of obtaining robust estimates of typical contamination, it was felt that there is real benefit in undertaking a UK-wide study rather than a Scotland only study,” she said.

“The additional benefit of carrying this out will be its applicability for all of the UK not just one nation should other nations wish to utilise the information,” she added.

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