Recycler welcomes new UK MRF regulations

ECO Plastics says new MRF code of practice can improve quality.

February 20, 2014
RTGE Staff
Legislation & Regulations Plastics

ECO Plastics Ltd., a United Kingdom-based company that makes recycled-content pellets from bottle scrap , says it welcomes the publication of the U.K. government’s new regulations for material recycling facilities (MRFs).

The regulations, unveiled by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) in early February, confirm that mandatory quality requirements for MRFs will be introduced in October 2014.

In a news release, the company says that more needs to be done in order to safeguard the domestic industry. While ECO Plastics and others in the plastics recycling industry have applauded the move as an essential first step, the company says it is dismayed the government has failed to back up the regulations with other key measures.

“We are pleased that the government has understood the importance of tackling the declining quality of the U.K.’s waste stream and introduced a compulsory Code of Practice, and that the system will be actively policed by the Environment Agency,” says Jonathan Short, deputy chairman and founder of ECO Plastics. “Full transparency through the publication of testing results is another important step that will pay dividends in increasing industry confidence.”

Short continues, “That said, regulations are only as valuable as the inspection process used to enforce them, and the sampling quantities and frequency of testing envisioned is a long way below what is needed to come close to robustly measuring the quality of inputs and outputs. There is a very real concern that MRFs that do not wish to comply will be able to flout the rules because of the extent to which the process has been watered down.”

Short says an insistence on higher quality output was seen as a threat by some waste management companies. “It is frustrating that some companies have only viewed the code from a negative perspective. MRFs should embrace the regulations as the tool to deliver the industry-wide improvement which will drive up the pricing of the entire market, adding value for all stakeholders. I continue to look forward to the day when I no longer receive 18 percent contamination in my feedstock.”