13 January 2009

Reprocessors call for quality recycling amid downturn

A group of material reprocessors has written to Welsh Environment minister Jane Davidson criticising commingled collections following ongoing reports of stockpiling.

Reprocessors including Aylesford Newsprint, Bryson House Recycling, Novelis, Berryman's, Recyclatex, Baylis and the Community Recycling Network have written to the minister emphasising that there is still a market for “good quality” materials which are separated at source.

If any government assistance is offered please make it conditional on authorities investing in recycling collection methods which are known to provide materials of a suitable quality for reprocessing

 
Reprocessors' letter to Welsh environment minister Jane Davidson

However, the organisations claim that there are problems finding markets for lower-quality, commingled materials – forcing many UK reprocessors to import material as feedstock.

As a result, the signatories warned against any possible financial support for commingled collections which might be announced in the wake of the downturn.

The letter said: “We know you are aware of the problems caused by the lack of destinations for low-quality materials being collected by commingled collections. You may well be pressed, under the veil of the “credit crunch”, to in some way compensate for the inadequacies and fickleness of the world markets in recyclates.

“Please resist these pressures – quality is the key – and if any government assistance is offered please make it conditional on authorities investing in recycling collection methods which are known to provide materials of a suitable quality for reprocessing,” it added.

The signatories – who are all part of source-separated lobbying group the Campaign for Real Recycling – claimed that that they were writing to Ms Davidson as she was “ahead of the game” in promoting quality.

However, they are also planning to write a similar letter to English recycling minister Jane Kennedy to get their message across.

CPI

The letter from the CRR members follows increasing criticism of commingled collections from the paper industry, with the Confederation of Paper Industries claiming on Monday (January 12) that storage problems only arose with a “small quantity of poor quality paper.”

As a result, the organisation representing paper makers and packaging producers called for a recycling strategy to promote quality.

It said: “CPI believes that Government should be creating a national strategy for household recycling. This strategy should engage best practice in every region to maximise the quality of recovered paper, rather than the confusing mix of local government policies which is exacerbating current problems with recycling.”

Letter

The full text of the letter is as follows:

A NEW YEAR LETTER OF SUPPORT FOR POSITIVE POLICY MAKING.

This letter comes to you from a round table of materials' reprocessors who handle more than 90% of the tonnage processed for recycling within the UK.

We wish to emphasise that, generally, there is still a healthy and enduring UK market for good quality recyclable material. We as re-processors are still importing tonnages because we cannot get sufficient feedstock from UK collectors. In these carbon sensitive days this situation is becoming an increasing nonsense.

We established the Campaign for Real Recycling in collaboration with other collecting organisations to help ensure the good quality of material collected for recycling in the UK. For the most part these collection organisations operate kerbside-sorted systems, achieving the highest tonnages (of dry recyclate) and providing us with the best quality materials. Just over half of UK Local Authority operations (and all of the community sector operations) use this method. We have worked with them for many years to ensure quantity and quality of material supply, and will continue to do so.

We know you are aware of the problems created by the lack of destination for low-quality materials being collected by co-mingled collections. You may well be pressed, under the veil of the “credit crunch”, to in some way compensate for the inadequacies and fickleness of the world markets in recyclates. Please resist these pressures – quality is the key – and if any government assistance is offered please make it conditional on authorities investing in recycling collection methods which are known to provide materials of a suitable quality for reprocessing

We urge you to seize this moment in the development of recycling in the UK. In recent years, as reprocessors, we have had to become increasingly engaged in determining the processes that supply us. As a group of companies reprocessing a wide variety of materials, we now see a common interest in trying to ensure that the UK reprocessing industry as a whole builds capacity as the collection of recyclates increases and world markets become more sophisticated during the economic down-turn. We are still importing feedstock, the market is not saturated and new UK capacity is planned and will be coming on stream requiring suitable quality materials.

We hope that you will receive this letter in the spirit that it is intended, to assist in reaching the right conclusions for recycling policy and practice going forward. We are very impressed with the way that you and Wales have seized the ambitious lead in this respect by raising the bar on targets and want you to know that those of us that consider ourselves to be the bedrock of the emerging recycling industry believe that you have got it absolutely right and want to give power to your elbow.

Yours sincerely,

Chris White – Aylesford Newsprint

Eric Randall – Bryson House Recycling (operates both kerbside and MRF sorting collection systems)

Andy Doran – Novelis Recycling (aluminium)

Mick Keogh – Berryman's Glass

Alan Wheeler – Recyclatex (Textile Recycling Association)

Chris Baylis – Baylis PlasticsAndy Moore – Community Recycling Network UK

Mal Williams – Chair – Campaign for Real Recycling.

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