Resource Association members define ‘high-quality recycling’

The Resource Association (RA), the trade association for the reprocessing and recycling industries and their supply chain, today (16 June) launched a new information project designed to provide ‘a convenient reference point for understanding reprocessors’ recyclate quality requirements’.

The Recycling Quality Information Point (ReQIP) is a web-based information hub, which the RA says has been ‘launched 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’.

Project background

The launch of ReQIP follows the announcements by Defra that it will be ‘stepping back’ on its waste policy work, and that it does not intend to publish guidance on when it was ‘technically, environmentally and economically practicable’ (TEEP) to require separate collections, as had previously been expected (although draft guidance was recently released after a freedom of information request).

ReQIP adds to the number of tools available to local authorities looking to understand their obligations under the Waste Regulations, after the ‘Waste Regulations Route Map’ was published recently by a working group headed by WRAP. The RA welcomed the route map and says it anticipates that the two projects will be cross-referenced through the WRAP Resource Hub.

Project details

The ReQIP project has been co-ordinated for the Resource Association by member and long-standing reprocessor industry specialist Peter Mansfield & Associates Ltd. The company has compiled ‘detailed information’ on recyclate quality specifications from 36 reprocessor companies and associations, which have now been published in an overall ‘Quality Specifications Table’. This information is published with the reprocessors’ approval, and represents quality specifications information for 12,917,800 tonnes of UK reprocessing of ‘all key materials’(paper, glass, plastics and metals) together with green and wood wastes and a range of other streams including batteries, textiles and beverage cartons.

‘Responding positively to the challenge from Dan Rogerson’

Commenting on the launch of the project, RA Chief Executive Ray Georgeson said: “We understand the position that many in local authorities feel they have been left in as a result of the lack of formal guidance from Defra on TEEP, but we have responded positively to the challenge from Dan Rogerson for industry to step forward.  While no outside body has the mandate or authority to issue guidance on TEEP, we have provided a comprehensive and accessible summary of what UK reprocessors consider to be ‘high-quality recycling’ in relation to their feedstock requirements and specifications. It cannot be regarded as guidance on TEEP, but it is necessary information for councils as they work out whether their collection schemes are compliant with legislation.

“We consider that this information constitutes a clear and comprehensive statement of the ‘necessary quality standards for the relevant recycling sectors’ as defined in Article 11. In the next phase of the project in the next few weeks, we will release a chart detailing reprocessor views on the broad impact on material value of the mixing of certain materials in collection schemes. This is again aimed at improving the information available directly from reprocessors to local authorities, an area which will benefit from improved communication.”

Project Co-ordinator Peter Mansfield added: “We are very grateful to all the companies and associations that provided information, which we note goes far beyond the Resource Association membership in terms of tonnage capacity represented and range of materials. The project remains a live process, and any reprocessors wishing to add specifications information to the project are warmly invited to get in touch.”

Association Chairman Jonathan Short concluded: “We agree with the widely stated view that all parts of the supply chain need to work better together to improve recyclate quality. We welcome dialogue with local authorities that want to understand the needs of the reprocessor better and who appreciate that while collection is a critical element, recycling doesn’t happen until the materials are reprocessed back into product. If councils can use the information in the ReQIP project with their collection contractors and MRF operators, then together we can strive for legally-compliant collection systems that genuinely meet the quality needs of the recycling industries – for everyone’s benefit.”

Full details of the ReQIP project are available on the Resource Association’s website.