8 February 2019 by Elizabeth Slow

MRF input quality continues downward trend

The tonnage of target material received at England’s materials recycling facilities continued in a downward trend for the fourth consecutive quarter, latest data suggests.

Figures published this week on WRAP’s Materials Facility Portal show that the average percentage of ‘target material’ received by responding MRFs in the third quarter of 2018 stood at 84.2% – a decrease of 0.6% since the previous quarter (see letsrecycle.com story).

On average, 84.2% of input material into England’s MRFs during Q3 2018 was ‘target material’

The Portal displays the input and output sampling data from MRFs, with input tonnage taken from mixed dry recycling and output focused on the glass, paper, metal and plastics material streams produced at the back end of facilities.

While having remained broadly flat since material quality data capture at MRFs first began in 2014, the latest figure represents the lowest percentage of ‘target material’ recorded as having been received by MRFs to date.


Data was reported from 88 facilities in England, and suggested that the total tonnage of mixed material entering these MRFs in Q3 2018 was 838,894 tonnes which is around 21,814 tonnes (2.5%) less than the previous quarter.

The data suggests that during the quarter both the percentage of non-target material (6%) – i.e material that is recyclable, but not intended for processing at the reporting facility – and non-recyclable material (9.7%), received at these facilities increased in Q3.

Paper continued to make up the largest percentage of target material received at 50.1%, followed by glass (19.2%), plastics (13%) and metals (6.6%).

At the back end, the data suggests that the total tonnage of ‘Specified Output Material’ leaving the responding facilities during the quarter was 627,740 tonnes.  This is a decrease of 126,485 tonnes compared to the previous quarter.  The lowest average percentage (by weight) of target material in the output material streams was plastic (89.7%), according to the data.


The picture was different in Wales where data was recorded for 59,490 tonnes of mixed material at 12 reporting MRFs.

According to the figures, average percentage of target material received by responding MFs in Q3 2018 was 89%, which is a 1.6% increase from the previous quarter (87.4%). The data noted a change in target material (1.6% increase), non-target (1.4 % decrease), and non-recyclable (0.1% decrease) material since the last reporting period (2018 Q2).

In Q3 2017 the percentage of non-recyclable material received exceeded that of non-target material for the first time, and this has continued in Q3 2018, according to WRAP.

The total tonnage of SOM leaving the responding Welsh MRFs in Q3 2018 was 44,717 tonnes which is 8,885 tonnes less than Q2 2018 and is the lowest tonnage since reporting started.

Data on the level of target and non-target material has been recorded by MRF operators since requirements to begin sampling and reporting the quality of loads came into effect in October 2014.

The regulations aim to bring ‘more transparency’ to the sorting and recycling of household waste by requiring MRF operators receiving more than 1,000 tonnes of mixed waste each year have been required to report the quality of input and output material sorted at facilities.

Related links
MRF data


To post your comment, please login or signup.

Login Sign up