Paper manufacturers have registered a “growing impatience” about the effect of commingled collections on the quality of the recycled material they process and extra costs incurred.
The corrugated sector of the Confederation of Paper Industries (CPI) is urging the waste industry and local authorities to do more to achieve greater collection consistency.
The call follows a BBC report in August that more materials were being rejected from MRFs, although the amount remains a small fraction of the total recycled tonnage.
CPI director of packaging affairs Andy Barnetson said that rising reject rates partially reflected a “growing impatience” among paper mills about the quality of the material they are receiving and then having to shoulder the cost burden of contamination.
Barnetson said that while “the vast majority” of corrugated material recovered from retailers was good enough, the main area of mills’ concern was post-domestic, and he blamed a lack of clarity and consistency for a decline in quality.
“Increasing energy, water, sorting and waste disposal costs have focused reprocessors on the impact of poor quality recycled corrugated.
“The corrugated industry favours separation at source. But a clear and consistent approach to collection, such as that being advocated by WRAP, would provide clarity and simplicity for councils and the public.”
The CPI said around 50% of English local authorities employ a commingle system, but they should be encouraging more households to separate corrugated from other recyclables, particularly glass and plastic.
A CPI statement said: “Even though we argue that the advent of commingled collections effectively cross-contaminates everything, the corrugated industry’s resolve to continue to reduce its impact on the planet and further boost recycling is unwavering.”