Material quality for MRFs hits low point

The volume of target materials received at England’s materials recycling facilities (MRFs) for the first quarter of 2018 was the lowest recorded since reporting began.

Materials being sorted at an MRF

In total, 84.9% of material received was target material, which is marginally lower than the 85.6% for Q4 2017 (see story), and the lowest percentage of target material per quarter since reporting began in 2014.

Average composition of sampled input material, Jan-Mar 2018 (England)

Meanwhile, the percentage of non-recyclable waste received rose to 9.6% – which is the highest level since reporting started.

Non-target material – material that is capable of being recycled but not a target material for that facilities – made up the remaining 5.5%.


The data on quality was published on WRAP’s Materials Facility Reporting Portal this month. The latest data charts the volume of ‘target’ and ‘non-target’ material received by 101 MRFs in England and Wales from January to March 2018.

Despite the fall in target material, the total tonnage of mixed material entering the MRFs in Q1 2018 rose to 884,711 tonnes – around 61,212 tonnes or 7.4% more than the previous quarter.

And, the total tonnage of Specified Output Material (SOM) leaving the responding MRFs in Q1 2018 was 680,526 tonnes. This is an increase of 63,934 tonnes compared to the previous quarter.

The waste supplied to the responding MRFs in England was attributed directly to 224 local authorities and 248 other named suppliers, such as waste management companies.

Out of the total 84.9% target material, paper continued to make up the largest percentage at 47.9%, followed by glass (16.1%), plastics (13.4%), and metals (6.6%).


Fluctuations in input stream samples in England Q4 2014 – Q1 2017

In Wales, 69,769 tonnes of mixed material entered MRFs during Q1. Of this, 87.5% was target material, 5.1% non-target, and 7.4% non-recyclable. There has been a small change in target material (0.6% increase) and non-recyclables (0.6% decrease) since 2017 Q4.


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 are the fourteenth 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.

Related links
MRF reporting portal


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