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ECO Plastics calls for urgent action on UK recyclate quality

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ECO Plastics calls for urgent action on UK recyclate quality

April 25
12:57 2013

Leading UK recycling company ECO Plastics has called for the urgent introduction of mandatory requirements in the sector, following the completion of the UK government’s consultation on the introduction of a Code of Practice for Materials Recycling Facilities (MRFs).

Launched in February, the consultation by the UK’s Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) solicited views on whether a code specifying minimum output standards should be compulsory for all MRFs, coupled with transparent and auditable sampling regimes, or whether companies should be able to comply on a voluntary basis.

ECO Plastics maintains there is a common view within the recycling industry that allowing MRFs to choose whether or not they meet agreed standards, will negate the point of the scheme, and continue what it describes as “the current deterioration in quality of the UK’s waste stream”.

“We have submitted our response to the Government’s consultation and in that we have made clear in no uncertain terms our view that the Code of Practice is doomed to failure if firms can simply opt out,” says ECO Plastics managing director Jonathan Short.

Short says that the fact that some reprocessing markets can still accept a high degree of contamination means that companies choosing to comply with voluntary standards will be undercut by their competitors.

“If they are forced to decide between maintaining quality and going out of business, you can predict which option they will choose,” he says. “The scheme will collapse unless all MRFs have to meet minimum standards.”

If compulsory targets were to be introduced, Short adds that a comprehensive testing system would also be required to ensure they were being met.

“MRFs must be required to carry out frequent analysis of their materials and they must be subject to regular, unscheduled tests of their facilities by the [UK] Environment Agency,” he says.

“Full transparency is essential, with the information summarised and made publicly available. The industry has nothing to hide and everything to gain by working to Best Practice – we will produce material which is attractive to any market in the world, at premium value.”

Short asserts that the UK government must take urgent action “in order to safeguard the UK industry” as, he says, “there has been a visible decrease in the quality of the waste that we receive from some MRFs” since the Code of Practice was first proposed in a 2011 Waste Review.

“If we are to create a sustainable, 360-degree domestic industry that covers the entire waste value chain, it is imperative that we address the issue of declining quality,” he says.

“Establishing a consistent stream of quality recyclate from MRFs is the best way to tackle the problem at source.

“The Government must not throw away this golden opportunity to set the foundation for our industry’s future success.”

Having begun re-processing post-consumer plastics in 2006, ECO Plastics is Europe’s leading plastic bottle recycler, and has invested more than £17m to quadruple its processing capacity and triple the factory footprint over the past five years.

During early 2009 the Linclonshire-based company became the first UK company to receive food grade accreditation for its rPET resin.

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