New video highlights the problem of contamination

New video highlights the problem of contamination

The Resource Association (RA), a trade association for the reprocessing and recycling industries and their supply chain, has today (26 November) released a new video highlighting the challenge of contamination and promoting ‘high-quality recycling’.

Contamination: The Enemy Of Recycling, produced by the Leeds-based digital agency Rejuvenate Productions, features RA members describing the reality of the ‘poor and inconsistent quality’ of incoming recyclate, and what can be done about it. For example, Jonathan Short, RA Chairman and Deputy Chairman and founder of plastics reprocessing company ECO Plastics, outlines that around 20 per cent of incoming material is contaminated by things such as wet paper and black plastic, while Gemma Stapeley from paper recyclers Aylesford Newsprint highlights that glass is the main contaminant for their processes.

The five-minute video aims to provide a ‘clear and consistent message’ about the common contaminants coming in to reprocessors, in the hopes of helping local authorities understand the impact they have on recycling, and what can be done to reduce their collection.

‘Local authorities are missing out on value’

Ray Georgeson, Chief Executive of the Resource Association, commented: “Contamination of recyclate remains a major issue for the British reprocessing industries. As I mentioned in the film, it costs UK industry at least 50 million pounds a year to clean up poor-quality material that arrives at our factory gates. The video illustrates in some detail the issues the UK manufacturing industry faces from the material that comes from many British households.”

He added: “Major contributors to the recycling supply chain are losing out – local authorities are missing out on value, the recycling industry bears a cost of clean-up and this slows the investment and job creation potential of our industry at a time when we need it more than ever. We want to assist councils in understanding better the impact of contamination and importantly, what we can do together to improve this.”

The video has already been shown at several workshops held by the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) on improving the quality of dry recyclables.

John Shannon, Strategic Waste Manager for Durham County Council, who attended one of the WRAP workshops, commented: “I like to think I have a fair grasp of issues surrounding recyclate contamination. However, the video highlighted the minute levels of contamination needed to adversely affect, through to causing catastrophic failure of, resultant recycled products.

“I was not aware of such dramatic effects from so minimal levels of contaminant being present and, by highlighting this, it puts in perspective why it is essential to accurately communicate what can and cannot be collected and how residents can positively contribute to the whole process.”

ReQIP project

‘Contamination: The Enemy Of Recycling’ forms the latest element of the RA’s Recycling Quality Information Point (ReQIP), which was launched in June of this year ‘in response to the call from Defra Minister Dan Rogerson MP for industry to step forward and provide advice to local authorities on how to comply with legislation on separate collections’.

It provides information on the maximum overall level of contamination that can be handled by reprocessors of each major recycling stream, the impact specific contaminants have on the quality of recyclate, and how each contaminant subsequently affects the market value of the recyclate.

The RA has also published a ReQIP reference chart setting out the maximum level of cross contamination that reprocessors can accept if the material is to be considered suitable for ‘high-quality recycling’.

Watch ‘Contamination: The Enemy Of Recycling’ below.


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