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Quality debate needs mature heads

This week MRW obtained Defra’s initial plans for its controversial mandatory MRF code of practice. The plans reveal important new details, confirm some elements that were expected, and emphasise that there is still room to influence the outcome.

Development of the code will split MRW readers, but Defra has made clear efforts to understand those differing viewpoints.  Defra’s engagement with players from across the industry is to be applauded, particularly given that government is not always so consultative.

The summer’s consultation, and the run up to it, set a challenge to the industry: a challenge to engage constructively with one another. This will be crucial to maintaining the confidence of government and to achieving the best outcome all round.

Both volume and quality of recyclates are very important. Now that considerable strides have been made in increasing volumes, the challenge is to enhance quality without harming volume unduly.  Discussions will come down to thorny issues such as the sampling sizes and frequencies, and will be made all the more difficult by the tight timescales needed if government is to meet its deadlines for implementation.

The issue deserves a mature debate involving all the key parties. While consensus is unlikely, squabbling must be resisted – or Defra might just put fingers in ears.

For its part, government must continue to listen and engage.

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