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First results of new MRF sampling scheme released

WRAP has released the first data from the new reporting regime for MRF operators in England and Wales.

In terms of input, WRAP’s summary shows that, by weight, 86.6% of material received by English MRFs was ‘target’, meaning it was identified by the operator to produce bulk quantities. The non-target material figure was 5.9% while that considered non-recyclable was 7.7%.

In Wales, the target material was 90.6% with 4.9% non-target and 4.5% non-recyclable.

For output, MRFs recorded the following averages for targeted materials. Welsh returns are in parentheses :

  • Paper – 96.7% (96.9%)
  • Plastic – 92.1% (91.4%)
  • Metal  - 94.6% (93.1%)
  • Glass – 92.0% (84.0%)

The data returns are for the fourth quarter of 2014. WRAP reports that, of the 90 MRFs in England which had notified the Environment Agency (EA) in accordance with the regulations, 86 submitted data. In Wales, nine MRFs had notified Natural Resources Wales while eight submitted data.

Jakob Rindegren, Environmental Services Association (ESA) recycling policy adviser, welcomed the dataset, saying it had taken a lot of work but it was just the beginning of a process.

“A word of caution is therefore needed for anyone trying to draw conclusions from such a limited data set – it will take a number of quarters before much can be said about the data,” he said.

“However, it is important that all sites that should be covered by the regulations are fully compliant. We expect the EA, as soon as possible, to investigate all sites it thought would notify but for some reason or another did not.

“This is something ESA will monitor closely. We also join the Resource Association in calling on all MRF operators falling within the scope of the regulations that have not yet notified, or submitted their data, to do so.”

Resource Association chief executive Ray Georgeson echoed the ESA’s comment about the work put into the scheme by Defra, EA and WRAP.

“They are to be congratulated on a good start with good engagement with all key stakeholders in the effective delivery of the regulations. Clearly, no grand conclusions should be taken from one quarter’s worth of data, especially when the early stages of implementation have meant that potentially a significant number of MRFs haven’t in fact supplied data and become compliant.”

Chris Murphy, deputy chief executive of the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management, said: “The development of these regulations underlined this sector’s commitment to transparency and quality, and this first set of data provides useful insight into how the new system is bedding in.

“We now need to use this information effectively to ensure that the regulations are appropriately implemented and enforced to promote good practice throughout the industry.”

  • A qualifying MRF must receive 1,000 tonnes or more of mixed waste material for sorting in four consecutive reporting periods (each reporting period is three months).

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