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Meeting sparks hopes of MRF code decision

Waste industry chiefs are set to meet Defra officials in the next fortnight to re-assert pressure on ministers to force all material recovery facility (MRF) operators to sign up to a code of practice.

A ministerial decision on whether to make the code mandatory or voluntary was expected last autumn but Defra delayed its decision, citing the need for further consultation.

However, industry sources this week said they were optimistic a decision was now imminent.     

Environmental Services Association (ESA) policy adviser on materials recovery David Sher said: “We are hopeful that Defra will make a decision on this shortly. We are very keen to move forward on this and I am sure Defra is too.”

The code represents “smart industry self-regulation” and ESA members see it as “the right thing to do”, Sher added.

The ESA has previously warned that unless the code is mandatory, there will be a disincentive to sign up to it as the cost of doing so could make MRFs uncompetitive against non-compliant MRFs.

Plans for an industry-led code of practice were floated in the Waste Review published by the Government last June.

Defra’s waste policy action plan said: “The code will include measurement of the quality of the input and output of the MRFs, with the intention of improving the overall quality.

“[It] should ensure that outputs from MRFs meet minimum quality standards for certain applications.”

A Defra spokeswoman said: “We’re discussing with industry whether that would be through bringing in a voluntary or mandatory code of practice. We will make an announcement on that decision in due course.”  

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