Recyclate Quality Targeted In New Report

A year after unveiling the Quality First Campaign, The Recycling Association has launched a report looking at how the quality of UK material can be improved.

The Quality First report, launched at RWM 2017, sets out a series of actions The Recycling Association wants to see implemented to improve the quality of material available for recycling.

In the report, The Recycling Association warns that every part of the supply chain must take responsibility to ensure a product can be recycled at the end of its life.

“The Recycling Association has been warning for many years about the need to improve quality, and that is why we launched the Quality First campaign a year ago. It is even more imperative now that the actions in this report are taken on board by the entire supply chain. Everyone has to take responsibility for quality now.”

It also notes the progress undertaken by reprocessors and recyclers to improve quality, including the achievements of the Quality First campaign which has been driven by them.

The Recycling Association chief executive Simon Ellin said: “We were writing this report as the news came from China that it intended to ban a range of recyclable materials from being imported into the country.

“While that didn’t change any of the actions we proposed in the report, it should certainly act as a massive warning that we have got to improve the quality of our materials. Those materials that are not banned, we should not assume they will be allowed to be exported to China forever. Unless we take action now to improve quality, we could see our largest market disappear.

“The Recycling Association has been warning for many years about the need to improve quality, and that is why we launched the Quality First campaign a year ago. It is even more imperative now that the actions in this report are taken on board by the entire supply chain. Everyone has to take responsibility for quality now.”

The actions in the report are:

  • A supply chain approach – there needs to be more engagement throughout the supply chain involving all stakeholders to create a unified approach to quality with each part taking responsibility
  • Packaging design – The Recycling Association calls on the UK Government to adopt the European Union Circular Economy Package despite Brexit, implement new regulations on packaging design as an urgent priority and investigate ways to extend producer responsibility
  • Consumer communications – producers should be encouraged to fund communications campaigns that promote quality recycling
  • A recognition by UK regulators that recycling materials provides proven environmental benefits and that a much lighter touch should be applied to compliant operators, allowing their businesses to operate competitively with users of primary raw materials
  • Illegal exporters – intentional criminal activity impacts on the reputation of the whole recycling industry, and as a result, The Recycling Association calls for increased funding to crack down on those operators who deliberately break the law. To assist this process, we are also seeking more clarity on export regulations, including the development of global export standards for paper. This will give clarity to exporters to operate fully within the law
  • Building partnerships – we will seek new partnerships where we can, as well as build on existing relationships with trade bodies and other stakeholders to maximise the importance of the quality message.

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