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Report to follow inaugural quality conference

2000 ellin schuetzeberg robinson quality first conference

A report on improving the quality of material in the recycling supply chain is being prepared by the Recycling Association (RA) with a launch due in July.

The move comes after the association’s inaugural Quality First Recycling conference in London on 5 April.

The RA was formed in 2009 out of the Independent Waste Paper Processors Association, and has more than 80 members with a combined turnover in excess of £2bn. 

A poll of more than 100 delegates found that 59% considered poor material quality to represent the biggest threat to the sector.

Another issue of concern was legislative ambiguity (34%), while only a handful voted for global competition or illegal trading as a threat.

Simon Ellin, RA chief executive (left in picture), said: “The UK’s recycling sector faces many challenges just to maintain the status quo, but frequently the emphasis is placed on global competition and how that impacts the market.

“The fact is that if we produce poor-quality material, global competition is insignificant. Unless our quality is a match for that produced elsewhere, we might just as well shut up shop.”

He said he was pleased that most delegates recognised the importance of quality.

The Quality First Recycling Conference focused on four key areas:

  • Local authorities, recycling and waste management companies, products designers and brands, retailers, exporters and material purchasers working together better
  • Different quality expectations in various markets
  • An ambiguous regulatory landscape and the consequences of non-compliance
  • The best practice shown by large brands such as Marks & Spencer and Coca-Cola

Adrian Jackson, RA chair, said: “This conference is one of the first milestones on our journey to kickstart change. There were many divergent opinions and suggestions and, under this campaign, we will now assess them and develop a strategy to see where we can drive changes most effectively.

“By pulling together, and getting more support along the way, we are confident that we will drive change.”

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