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MF figures stay steady

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The latest materials facilities (MF) reporting data released by the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) shows a consistent level of target input and output, with the number of facilities taking part increasing slightly from the previous quarter, though remaining lower than originally anticipated.

The data published today (17 May) covers quarter 4 (October to December) of 2015 and is the fifth publication of data since the amended Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2014 required qualifying MFs to provide quarterly details of the mixed waste tonnage received from each supplier and output tonnage for defined material streams.

Once again, WRAP has urged those using the data to take caution when drawing conclusions due to the relative newness of the reporting process, though facilities have been sampling and reporting for 15 months.

Facilities not taking part

An issue that has been causing concern since the first set of data was published this time last year is that participation in the reporting has been far lower than expected. Under the regulations, MFs that qualify for the reporting obligations are those that receive 1,000 tonnes or more of mixed waste material for sorting in four consecutive reporting periods.

Results from the first few reporting periods drew suggestions that many eligible facilities were not reporting their waste, and the WRAP commentary into the Q3 results admitted that ‘the number of notified sites in England is significantly lower than originally anticipated’.

During that quarter, the Environment Agency (EA) contacted 120 sites in England that had been identified as potentially falling within the scope of the regulations but had not reported figures. The ‘majority’ of responses that these inquiries received, says WRAP, suggested that the facilities did not reach the material threshold.

The number of facilities reporting actually dropped in England in the last quarter from 90 to 86, compared to 160 that were expected to fall under the regulations. For this quarter the English figure returned to 90, while 11 reported in Wales, one up from Q3 of 2015. The data for one facility, which notified for the first time this quarter, was not included in the data due to incorrectly supplied data. The data will be resubmitted and verified by the EA before being added to the portal data.

Addressing the issue of non-compliance with the regulations, the WRAP commentary to the new data said: ‘The regulators (the Environment Agency in England and Natural Resources Wales in Wales) are continuing their annual programme of announced and unannounced visits to each site.

‘The visits enable the regulator to advise operators on the statutory sampling and reporting requirements and assess compliance with them, as well as provide advice on best practice as set out in the WRAP guidance. Any potential adjustments a facility might make to their sampling arrangements following feedback and guidance from the regulator, may not be immediately seen in their reported data on the portal.’

Data

The data reported is consistent with that of the previous four reporting periods, with an average of 86.0 per cent of materials entering English MFs being target material, compared to 88.4 per cent in Wales. These are only marginally different from the last quarter’s results (86.1 per cent for England, 88.0 per cent for Wales).

In total, 886,511 tonnes of material entered the responding English MFs in Q4 2015, almost 69,000 tonnes more than in the previous quarter. These materials can be attributed directly to 209 local authorities and 291 other suppliers (include waste management companies and other waste facilities). Over half of the target material received by MFs was paper (52.2 per cent), and 8.8 per cent of received material was non-recyclable.

In Wales, the total tonnage reported over the quarter was 83,410 tonnes, the highest quarterly input tonnage from all previous reporting quarters as all 11 facilities that had notified Natural Resource Wales provided data. Figures show that 57.0 per cent of the target material received was paper, while only 4.0 per cent was non-recyclable.

Output is also measured in the figures, and the average percentage (by weight) of target material in the output streams is 89.8 per cent or higher in England and 85.2 per cent or higher for Wales. Both are marginally smaller figures than the previous reporting period, although due to the variability across estimates these are the lower estimates and may actually be higher.

The next update, for the first quarter of 2016 (January to March) will be published in August this year.

The commentary on the latest set of figures can be read on the WRAP website

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