New permitting rules to boost recycling

5th February 2013

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  • Waste ,
  • Life Cycle Analysis ,
  • Reporting ,
  • UK government



Waste recovery plants will have to report weekly on the materials they are processing under proposed permit changes aimed at improving the quality of recyclate

Defra has published draft regulations amending the Environmental Permitting Regulations (England and Wales) 2010 to impose new reporting requirements on materials recovery facilities (MRFs).

Under the proposed changes operators of plants receiving more than 1,000 tonnes of mixed waste a year will have to report to the Environment Agency the amount, and type, of waste they are receiving and sorting each week.

Operators will have to take samples of the waste they are receiving at least twice a week and of outputs once a week, and report how much of the materials is recyclable. They will have to list the amount of glass, plastic, metal and paper recycled, and how much waste cannot be recovered.

Forcing operators to list waste in detail, and making the reports available to local authorities, will help to improve the quality of material recovered and reused, according to Defra’s resource management minister Lord de Mauley.

“The recycling industry contributes around £3 billion to our economy. Having sufficient quantity of recyclable material is of course important for the markets. The quality of that material is equally important but often overlooked,” he said. “While some MRFs already provide quality material I want to see this happening more consistently across the industry.”

The regulations, which are now the subject of consultation, were drafted after a voluntary code of practice failed to improve the quality of recyclate, confirmed Defra. Just 15% of materials recovery facilities signed up to the recycling registration service (RRS) after its launch in April 2007, with many operators worried that voluntary compliance would leave them at a competitive disadvantage, according to the Environmental Services Association (ESA), which developed the scheme.

The ESA welcomed the mandatory approach, which builds on the requirements of the RRS, as providing the level playing field needed.

“MRFs are a vital part of the recycling supply chain and there are many excellent ones which consistently produce high quality material which meets their customers’ needs. However, not all MRFs are up to scratch and that is why we have lobbied Defra to make the code compulsory, rather than a voluntary,” commented Matthew Farrow, director of policy at the ESA.

“Ministers have wisely shown that the deregulatory priorities of the government are not appropriate in every situation and that this is a sector where proportionate regulation can boost investment and green growth.

The draft regulations are out to consultation until 26 April, and are expected to be enforced from April 2014.

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