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MRF upgrades allow councils to avoid China exports

The re3 partnership between three Berkshire councils and FCC has said it is now able to send all collected plastics for reprocessing in the UK, instead of exporting a proportion to China and Vietnam.

In its annual environmental report, re3 said “significant investment” in its MRF at Smallmead, Reading, had also boosted the quality of sorted mixed paper in order to meet China’s tightened contamination limits.

The MRF was redesigned in order to accept a wider range of plastics from kerbside collections, including pots, tubs and trays.

Engineering on the facility took place between December 2017 and January 2018. In 2017-18, it dealt with more than 25,000 tonnes of household-collected material and 80% of mixed dry recyclables were sent to UK facilities.

A spokesperson said all plastics are now sent to reprocessing company Jayplas.

She said: “The Jayplas facilities are based in the UK, and are processing our materials to manufacture end products such as plastic flakes, pellets used for food packaging or bags for life. Their products comply with EU legislation hence they can be exported across the EU.”

A joint statement was issued by representatives of the three local authorities in the partnershi,p Bracknell Forest Council, Reading Borough Council and Wokingham Borough Council.

It said: “Last year was very challenging for the waste industry. We all saw the impact of plastic pollution, courtesy of Blue Planet II, but councils and contractors alike had to manage restrictions on the export of materials to China.

“Despite this uncertainty, re3 managed not only to enhance the kerbside collection, allowing us to recycle more plastic, foil and cartons, but also has established end markets for all our processed materials.

“We are very fortunate that last year 80% of our mixed dry recycling was processed within the UK, and that figure will likely increase next year as all plastic materials are now being processed within the UK.”

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