Press release

Recycling quality to be improved

Consultation published on proposals to measure the quality of recycled materials being processed at Material Recovery Facilities (MRF).

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

New plans to improve the quality of paper, card, metals, plastic and glass recycling have been announced today by Resources Management Minister Lord de Mauley.

The proposals set out in a new code of practice for recycling facilities will improve the quality of recycling collected from homes and businesses, and will also promote a stronger market for recycled materials.

As part of our drive to increase the quality of recycling, Lord de Mauley launched a consultation asking for local authorities and industry’s views on government proposals to measure the quality of recycled materials being processed at Material Recovery Facilities (MRF).

A MRF is a facility that takes recycling collected from a households or businesses - normally paper, card, metals, plastic and glass - and then sorts them into individual material streams. The Government proposals will require all MRFs over a certain size to measure the quality of the input and outputs. The results from these tests would then be made available, for example to those businesses buying the recycling material as well as to local councils and others who supply the material to the MRFs.

Resource Management Minister Lord de Mauley said:

The recycling industry contributes around £3bn to our economy. Having sufficient quantity of recyclable material is of course important for the markets. The quality of that material is equally important but often overlooked.  I want that to change. While some MRFs already provide quality material I want to see this happening more consistently across the industry.

Marcus Gover, Director for Closed Loop Economy at WRAP, said:

WRAP welcomes the consultation on these new regulations aimed at improving the quality of recyclate produced from MRFs and strengthening the UK’s recycling sector. Quality is key to the continued growth and success of the whole recycling supply chain in the UK: this is as much about supporting economic growth as it is about improving the environment. In these challenging economic times, local authorities, waste management companies and reprocessors need to work together to make the most of the UK’s recycling success story.

Estelle Brachlianoff, Chief Executive Officer, Veolia Environmental Services (UK) Plc, said:

We welcome this announcement made at our Southwark MRF today which heralds industry consistency for all operators and will standardise material testing regimes, methodology and scheme compliance.  The consultation should lead to a new regime which will drive quality up across the entire supply chain - a move which we have long favoured - and support the continued growth of the low carbon economy.

Many waste management companies support an approach which is mandatory, with the emphasis being on high quality recycling, which in turn will not only improve the future of recycling, but enhance economic growth.

The Quality Action Plan is available here:

A full copy of the consultation is available here:

Published 1 February 2013