21 November 2016 by Will Date

WRAP outlines latest figures on MRF input contamination

‘Target’ material received and recorded at materials recovery facilities (MRFs) for recycling in England and Wales stood at over 87% – figures published for the second quarter of 2016 suggest.

Published on WRAP’s Materials Facility Reporting Portal last week, the data charts the volume of ‘target’ and ‘non-target’ material received at registered MRFs from April to June 2016.


The data suggests that the level of input contamination at MRFs has fallen by 1.1% to around 12.8% in England, and registered a slight (0.5%) increase in Wales to 12.4%.

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 figures, which were published on the WRAP Materials Facility portal, are the seventh set published under sampling and reporting obligations for MRF operators receiving more than 1,000 tonnes of mixed waste each year.

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.


The latest data suggests that over the course of the second quarter of 2016, MRF operators in England recorded a total tonnage of mixed material entering the facilities in Q2 2016 of 897,816 tonnes which is around 17,500 tonnes or 2% more than the previous quarter. The MRF operators provided data based on a total of 8,143 samples totalling nearly 567 tonnes.

Of this, around 47.6% was made up of paper, 12.7% plastics, 5.9% metals, 17% glass, whilst 4.7% was recorded as being non-target recyclable material, alongside 8.1% of non-recyclable material.

For Wales the total tonnage of mixed material entering the MFs in Q2 2016 was 78,089 tonnes. 604 samples were taken which amounted to 53 tonnes.


Broken down into material streams, this constituted 52% paper, 12.5% plastics, 6% metals and 17% glass as well as 8.2% non-target recyclable material and 4.2% non-recyclable material.

The data suggests that compared to previous quarters there has been very little movement on the input contamination during the time that MRFs have been required to record the quality of the material entering their gates.

MRFs in England have recorded a ‘target’ material rate of close to 86% since the reporting requirements came into effect in the final quarter of 2014, while in Wales this figure has fallen slightly from the 90% figure recorded over the same period.


letsrecycle.com’s one day MRF Best Practice Conference on 7 December will focus on the practical issues of sorting and separating waste at MRFs. To view the programme and to book tickets to attend, click here.


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