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Scottish proposals favour statutory MRF sampling

Scotland has launched a consultation on a series of actions to improve the quality of recyclable materials collected in the country.

The Recyclate Quality Action Plan indicates that source segregated collections are likely to be preferred and proposes the establishment of statutory sampling arrangements for MRF inputs and outputs. A similar consultation for recyclate quality in England is expected shortly.

The consultation document says a principal aim is to drive up the overall quality of recovered materials placed on the market.

Other aims include:

  • Greater transparency in the market place around the quality of recyclable materials.
  • Helping those contracting with sorting facilities know what they are contracting for.
  • Ensuring that people responsible for handling waste, including waste brokers, are complying with the source segregation and quality provisions set out in the Waste (Scotland) Regulations 2012.
  • Stimulating a robust and vibrant home market for the sale and reprocessing of quality recyclate.

The report indicates that a study of eight Scottish MRFs earlier this year found an average concentration of non-target and non-recyclable materials in commingled collections to be over 10%, with some significantly higher.

There is a preference for dry recyclables separated at source: “This system is most likely to result in material which can go forward for ‘high quality’ recycling”.

Fully commingled is considered unlikely to be acceptable. “Paper and glass from these systems are likely to be of significantly lower quality than if separately collected and with significant proportions unlikely to be of sufficient quality for ‘high quality’ recycling,” the report adds.

The Scottish Government plans to establish statutory sampling arrangements for MRFs. Zero Waste Scotland will be charged with developing ways of helping MRF operators to achieve the highest standard of materials separation.

The consultation will remain open until 28 December.

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