Materials recovery facilities should be regulated regardless of their size, the Environmental Services Association has said.
In its response to Defra’s consultation on draft regulations for a mandatory MRF code of practice, which closed on 26 April, the industry body said this should become a permit condition enforced by the Environment Agency.
ESA policy director Matthew Farrow said: “Defra’s proposals for implementing the code are a good starting point but need to be strengthened to ensure the code delivers on the ground.”
The ESA rejected the proposal for a 1,000 tonnes a year threshold, arguing “the regulation should aim to ensure a level playing field among all MRF operators to ensure acceptable standards and to maintain a high level of credibility.
“The code should therefore apply to all permitted MRFs and not set a minimum threshold”.
It also said the regulations should cover MRFs that handle single material streams, since these could have become contaminated, but that all enforcement should be risk-based, with light-touch regulation for MRFs that consistently produced good quality materials.
The simplest way of achieving compliance with the code would be “through the Environment Agency taking direct control of enforcement of the scheme,” the ESA submission said.
But it warned that the sampling system used to check on MRFs would create extra costs which the ESA said it expected would be passed back to local authorities.
It questioned the idea of a fully transparent system of publishing sampling results, since this would result in a mass of technical data not necessarily useful to the public.
“If detailed sampling data is to be published at MRF level, then to get a full picture of the recycling chain comparable data should also be published by reprocessor,” the ESA said.
When Defra launched the consultation in February, WRAP chief executive Liz Goodwin said it supported use of the code, saying “It’s in all of our interests to make sure that we’re extracting the maximum possible value out of our recyclate across the board, in order to compete effectively in both domestic and overseas markets.
“Higher quality materials will also attract higher, more stable prices.”