Recycling Association calls for separate collection of paper and board

Separate collection of paper and cardboard from other recyclable materials should be introduced by local authorities by 2025, The Recycling Association has said. As part of its new Quality First Roadmap, it also wants recovered fibre to meet End-of-Waste status by 2025 with other materials to follow by 2030 at the latest.

The aim of the Quality First Roadmap is to complement and inform the development of the Resources & Waste Strategy via the Environment Bill. It sets out a timeline of key targets that work with the legislative timetable that has been proposed by the UK Government. WRAP has also welcomed the vision of the Roadmap and said that with major policy reforms in the pipeline, it has never been more opportune to redesign recycling schemes that are fit for a circular future. The Confederation of Paper Industries (CPI) has also given its support to the call for separate collection of paper and cardboard.

The Recycling Association Chief Executive, Simon Ellin, said, “The UK needs to become a world-leading supplier of secondary commodities to both domestic mills and recycling facilities and their equivalents in vital export markets where manufacturing centres are situated. Our Quality First Roadmap sets out a series of targets over the coming years that will ensure we provide the very best quality material to mills and recycling facilities. This will enable it to be recycled into new products as part of the global circular economy. We are now calling on all UK local authorities to introduce the separate collection of paper and cardboard from other materials by 2025 with implementation to begin by 2023. This will benefit paper and cardboard recyclers who will receive a higher-quality raw material that would attract higher prices due to lower recycling costs.

“But it will also allow for packaging such as plastic films and cartons to be collected as core materials as planned by Government, separate to paper and cardboard. Collecting plastic films and cartons with paper and cardboard leads to more contamination as it is harder to sort. Separating fibre from other materials also benefits them as wet paper and cardboard contaminates plastics, metals and glass. We are also calling for End-of-Waste status for paper and cardboard by 2025 with other materials to follow by 2030 at the latest. By achieving this, the UK will become a bastion of high-quality material benefitting domestic and global recyclers as part of the circular economy.

“Over the last few years, we have seen our markets shrink, and at the end of 2020 exports to China of paper grades ended following the ban on plastics in 2018. Indonesia has introduced tougher restrictions and appears on a similar path to China, Malaysia is bringing in pre-shipment inspection of paper and cardboard, while Turkey is also reducing its import quota. It is imperative that we improve the quality of material we supply to domestic and international customers to ensure that we can have a successful and healthy recycling industry.

“With the introduction of the Environment Bill soon, Extended Producer Responsibility will provide funding for recycling infrastructure and will necessitate renegotiation of contracts. This provides us with the perfect opportunity to ensure that all parts of the supply chain work together to provide high quality secondary commodities that can easily be turned into new products.”

WRAP Chief Executive, Marcus Gover, added, “It is becoming increasingly evident that improving material quality needs to be prioritised in order to transition to a circular economy. It is commonly known across industry that it is not good practice to collect paper and card mixed with glass, and more recently as we consider how to achieve higher levels of recycling it is apparent that simply adding more materials to a commingled collection will create problems. For example, if plastic film/flexibles and cartons are collected mixed with paper and card then it is a serious quality concern. We welcome the vision of the Roadmap for improved material quality driven by targets and standards and with major policy reforms in the pipeline, it has never been more opportune to redesign recycling schemes that are fit for a circular future.”

CPI Director of Raw Materials, Simon Weston, said, “CPI is pleased to support The Recycling Association’s call for separate collection of paper and cardboard. The introduction of extended producer responsibility and consistency of collections in the Environment Bill seems like an appropriate time for local authorities to make this change. A great deal of effort is being made to ensure paper and cardboard packaging is designed to be as recyclable as possible. To complete the circle, we must collect paper and cardboard separately to other materials so that mills can recycle it as efficiently as possible into new packaging.”

The full report is available here.

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