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Paper mills' quality analysis challenged by recyclers

The Recycling Association (RA) has taken issue with a recent call from the Confederation of Paper Industries (CPI) for source separation rather than commingled collections.

In a statement on 4 October, the CPI reported its members’ “growing impatience” about the effect of commingled collections on the quality of the recycled materials and extra costs incurred.

Director of packaging affairs Andy Barnetson said the corrugated industry favoured separation at source, and what was needed was “a clear and consistent approach to collection”.

Simon Ellin 400

Simon Ellin 400

Simon Ellin, RA chief executive (pictured) welcomed the focus on quality, emphasing the association’s own ’Quality First’ campaign, but disagreed on the CPI approach.

“Members recognise that there are lots of benefits to commingled collection and we must work with all types of collection systems to improve quality,” he said.

“With around half of councils collecting material commingled, it isn’t practical to implement only source-separated collection, so we need to focus on quality from whatever system has been implemented.

“There are a number of very good MRFs out there that produce very good quality material.

“But there are also MRFs that are outputting poor quality material, and we need to work with these so that they improve.

”We also need to ensure that input quality improves, and this applies with source-separated, dual-stream and commingled collections.

”If input quality improves then output quality will also improve.”

Both associations agree that the current work from WRAP on consistency of collection could make a big contribution to higher quality recyclates and was worth pursuing.

Ellin added: “The whole supply chain is responsible for improving quality: from the manufacturer, the retailer, to the waste collection companies, the recyclers, the local authorities and the householder. By every part of this working together, that is how we improve quality.

“The RA and CPI have held discussions about a joint approach to quality that will provide a partnership and a consistent approach across the sectors we represent, and I look forward to continuing those discussions.”

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