U.K. based advocacy group finds that poor quality of recyclables costs companies more than $83 million per year.
The Resource Association, an advocacy organization for the reprocessing and recycling industries, has released a report that finds that the poor quality of the recyclables processed by Materials Recovery Facilities (MRFs) in the United Kingdom has resulted in increased costs for reprocessors and manufacturers.
The report, Costs of Contamination Report 2012, shows that poor and inconsistent quality recyclables is a significant financial burden for British industry. It identifies a conservative estimate of more than £51 million (US$83 million) a year of costs associated with the management of poor and inconsistent quality recyclables, representing an average of £15.67 (US$25.50) per metric ton for more than 3 million metric tons of reprocessing capacity featured in the survey.
All nine reprocessor members of the group took part in the research. The capacity surveyed for the report represents around half of all the U.K. reprocessing capacity that exists for paper and card, plastics, aluminium and glass. The nine participating companies were Aylesford Newsprint, Closed Loop Recycling, ECO Plastics, Huhtamaki (Lurgan), Novelis Recycling, Palm Recycling, DS Smith Recycling, Smurfit Kappa Recycling and UPM.
In a statement following the release of the report, Andy Doran, chairman of the Resource Association, says, “This report clearly shows the extent to which poor and inconsistent quality of recyclate adds real cost for the U.K. manufacturing base. This represents a missed opportunity for the U.K.; it is a cost burden that hampers investment and costs jobs, all to the detriment of the U.K. green economy.”
Ray Georgeson, Recycling Association’s chief executive, adds, “The drive for quantity has come in part at the expense of quality, and what might be seen as the delivery of cost savings at the collection end of recycling appears simply to be shifting costs into the manufacturing end of recycling. We question how long must the U.K. reprocessing sector carry this burden.”
In the report, the Association called for the following:
- A fresh look at the municipal recycling supply chain, including action to better regulate the output of MRFs. The outlook must include a mandatory MRF Code of Practice that demonstrably improves the quality of U.K. MRF output through a robust system of monitoring, material sampling and unannounced inspections;
- further robust action by regulators to enforce regulations and ensure that all recyclables exported meet legal quality requirements. The group says that doing this would lead to quality improvements in the recyclables destined for UK reprocessor;
- more research by the U.K. government and its agencies to better understand the relationship between collection systems, public behavior and contamination of recyclables - with the purpose of improving communications and operational practice to deliver better quality.
The findings of the report will be submitted to various U.K. government agencies as part of the on-going policy discussion about delivering high quality recycling.