The Recycling Association has stepped up its efforts to highlight the importance of quality in exports of recyclable material – with the launch of its Quality First campaign today (13 September).
The campaign is being backed by major exporters including ACN Europe, Cyclelink and Mark Lyndon Paper Enterprises alongside the Chinese material inspection agency CCIC London.
It carries a warning that UK recyclers could fall down the pecking order for major consumers of recyclable material such as China if export quality is not prioritised by collectors and processors of material.
Launching the campaign today, Simon Ellin, chief executive of the Recycling Association, said: “There is a risk to the UK recycling industry if the quality of materials collected for recycling does not improve, or gets worse.
“We are increasingly seeing that Chinese buyers, other export destinations and even UK mills are choosy about where they buy material. They have choices that they did not have before and for the Chinese this includes their increasingly developing domestic market.
“In the UK, it is essential that we improve the quality of materials we collect for recycling and everyone in the supply chain must take responsibility for that. This includes local authorities, retailers, recycling companies, waste management companies, exporters and even shipping lines as all of these have a legal responsibility to ensure material sent for export meets quality criteria.
“If we don’t improve quality, then there is a risk that we will start to see the UK at the bottom of the queue when it comes to purchasing decisions both in the export market and from UK buyers too.”
Under the campaign, the Recycling Association has pledged to raise awareness of the importance of material quality as well as lobbying for the acceptance of a 1.5% maximum out throw for paper – in line with the EN643 paper quality standard – across the UK.
The organisation has also said it will seek to ‘eliminate the deliberate trade of sub-standard and illegal-quality materials for reprocessing’.
The Association has said that in the coming weeks it will be meeting with key stakeholders including regulators to discuss how material quality can be improved.
Recycling Association president Adrian Jackson, added: “Quality First has been developed by The Recycling Association board and one of our tasks will be to act as a hub and facilitator to work with regulators and other stakeholders to ensure UK material is always regarded as the highest quality.
“From a paper recycling perspective, we want to promote understanding of and lobby for acceptance of a 1.5% maximum out throw for paper, and then seek to develop other material standards.
“We look forward to working with everyone in the supply chain to find the solutions to ensure we meet our goal of improving quality, and we would be happy to work with companies and organisations that share our ambitions to improve material quality.”