Paper firms have launched a campaign to convince councils of the benefits of separate collections of the material.
Trade body the Confederation of Paper Industries (CPI) said its ’Our Paper’ programme would help local authorities to build business cases for changes to their recycling services.
Through the initiative, the CPI will brief councils collectively and individually on the changing market dynamics for recovered fibres.
Resource Association chief executive Ray Georgeson is leading the campaign, which was devised in conjunction with recycling promotion body WRAP.
Georgeson said: “Ensuring ever-improving quality and quantity of paper and card for recycling has never been more important – recent events in China and south-east Asia have shown that starkly.
“The message remains simple: paper and card recycling are the backbone of most kerbside recycling services; improving quality and quantity is good for the environment, good for council taxpayers and good for British manufacturing.”
An initial market briefing as part of the campaign points out that 7.8 million tonnes of paper and card fibre is collected by councils but less than half of this is processed in the UK.
It adds that China took in more than half of recovered paper exported by the UK in 2017 but has since implemented a 0.5% contamination limit for all fibre, with a complete ban on importing recovered paper coming into force by the end of 2020.
The briefing highlights WRAP analysis indicating that moving to multi-material kerbside sorting could deliver net financial benefits to local authorities of up to £400m over eight years; add up to seven percentage points to the national recycling rate; and return up to £478m of materials into the economy as dry recyclables.
Sarah Raymond, chair of the Our Paper steering group, said: “The coming months and years will see significant changes in the way we manage recycling. Future developments in extended producer responsibility, food waste collection and enhanced consistency of collections are rising up councils’ agendas with forthcoming Government consultations on all these issues.
“Combined with huge market changes in the ability to export materials, it is a critical opportunity to future-proof fibre recycling collections as the centrepiece of kerbside systems, taking every opportunity to make savings as well. Our aim is to provide guidance and support and help local councils produce the material we need for a healthy British recycling industry.”