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Contrasting MRF contamination movement in England and Wales

Mrf sorting

The latest data from the MRF sampling scheme in England and Wales has shown contrasting movements in the contamination figures reported within the two nations.

A contamination level of 12.8% for material entering English MRFs in Q2 2016 is the lowest since reporting began in Q4 2014, according to data released by WRAP.

The Welsh total of 12.4%, on the other hand, is the highest since reporting began.

Some 90 MRFs in England notified the Environment Agency (EA) for the Q2 2016 period, two more than for the previous quarter.

Wrap england mrf

Wrap england mrf

All 90 MRFs submitted sampling data for the latest period compared with only 85 in the last period, while all 12 MRFs registered in Wales submitted data.

The total tonnage of material leaving English MRFs in Q2 was 655,451 tonnes, marginally the highest figure since reporting began, an increase of 751 tonnes on the previous quarter.

But the amount of material leaving Welsh MRFs dropped considerably from 68,041 tonnes to 55,466 tonnes in the latest quarter.

The highest contamination rate in output streams was found for glass and is 9.8% for England, and 14.9% for Wales.

In its report, WRAP plays down the improvement in English contamination levels, saying: “There has been little change in target, non-target and non-recyclable waste received by [MRFs] in England since reporting started.”

Facilities have been sampling and reporting for 21 months.

At RWM in September, Environmental Services Association executive director Jacob Hayler was asked whether enough data had now been collected for any conclusions to be drawn from it.

He said: “I think there are still some issues about definitions and consistency, and how different MRF operators report back on the system. But it’s a work in progress that will improve over time and it’s a good start.”

Data for July-September 2016 is expected in February.

Related files

Readers' comments (1)

  • It's worth remembering that the point of this reporting regime was that greater transparency would allow market forces to bring about an improvement in the output quality from commingled collections. The latest figures show precious little evidence that transparency alone is affecting the quality of UK recyclate overall. This suggests that there are bigger drivers - cost constraints for collectors, withdrawal of recycling credits for example which are over-riding whatever pressure improved information gives to the system.

    Is that right or is there other information lurking below the aggregate statistics that leads to a different conclusion?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

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