The poor quality of UK’s recyclates becoming a threat to the country’s performances!
quality of UK’s recyclates becoming a threat to the country’s performances!
A recent analysis of UK’s waste management performances recognised the
progress the UK has made on recycling but in parallel highlighted the
challenges and complexities faced by this country’s waste collection and
treatment system. In fact the UK household waste
recycling increased from 7.5 per cent in 1995 to 43 per cent and is well on
course to meet an EU target of 50 per cent by 2020. Average individuals are
producing 88kg less annual waste than five years ago and, as a nation, the
greenhouse gas emissions produce from it have fallen by 69.7 per cent since
For the first time last year, the UK recycled more household
waste than sent to landfill (10.7 million tonnes compared with 9.6 million). The
recycling market has steadily grown, generates more than £10bn in sales (a
three-fold increase since 1998) and employs more than 30,000 people. While
landfilling was subject to an increasing environmental tax in the last 15
years, today a tonne of old plastic bottles can be sold on the recycling market
for between £300 and £400, a tonne of paper is worth £100 and aluminium cans
fetch up to £800 a tonne. So why would you throw this stuff away?
However the quality of recyclates sorted by the 120
MFRs (Materials Recovery Facilities) in the UK varies a lot. According to MRF, the
'co-mingled' waste (mixed waste) should be separated into 95 per cent pure
bales of paper, plastic bottles, tin cans, drinks cans and so on. But Britain
recyclers claim that many of the supposedly pure bales are actually impure and
so unusable. This is one of the main reasons why around 70 per cent of the recyclates
in the UK are sent to China (under European law, it is illegal to export waste
but not to export materials for recycling). It cost time and money to remove
the impure materials while in China the cheap labour allows it.
Considering the increasing scarcity of resources, it is
therefore essential for local and regional authorities to have a clear legal
and financial framework that will help them to implement efficient collection
strategies, in particular selective collection, in order to keep this valuable
material resource in-house rather than sending them abroad.
Regions for Recycling (R4R) is a 3-year European
project (2012-2014) aiming to enable its partners to improve their recycling
performance through consistent comparisons and an exchange of good practices. The
project also aims at developing an online monitoring tool that will be
presented and for which training will be provided during a conference in Tallinn (Estonia),
on 03-05 December 2013.
Source: article from “The Independent”