Random sampling

With co-mingling here to stay, MRFs will remain an integral part of the UK recycling scene. But how can they deliver the right quality of material? Will Simpson finds out if the proposed MRF Code of Practice sampling regime is up to the task

This article was taken from Issue 71

The need to drive up the quality of recycled material in the UK has long been a concern for the sector. But what is the best way to go about it? Many have thought that the key to this would be government’s Material Recovery Facility (MRF) Code of Practice, which was finally published in draft form in January this year. At the time of writing, the proposals will make it mandatory for UK MRFs to test the quality of their inputs and outputs, though only those that process over 1,000 tonnes of dry recyclate per annum will be required to do this. Meanwhile, the document recommends that the sample sizes that operators test can be as low as 20 to 25 kilogrammes (kg). Some stakeholders have been far from impressed. “They’re not really serious”, says Ray Georgeson, Chief Executive of the Resource Association, the industry body that represents reprocessors (which ultimately have to deal with MRF material). “The lack of frequency and the small sample sizes will make it very easy for rogue operators to circumvent. There is no provision in the regulations for the Environment Agency (as the regulator) to make unannounced inspections of MRFs and there is not any agreement yet on how sampling is done, the volume of weights, frequencies and the degree of sophistication that might be needed in relation to different material streams.