Reduce contamination and keep charges down

As another MRF closes, Bradley Smith, sales and marketing director at Grundon Waste Management says more work needs to be done to improve the quality of recycled material being sent to MRFs:

Bradley Smith, sales and marketing director, Grundon Waste Management
Bradley Smith, sales and marketing director, Grundon Waste Management

When the Materials Recovery Facilities (MRF) Code of Practice was introduced in October last year, the aim was to reduce contamination and ensure recycled material is as clean as possible.

Reprocessors demand quality standards and whether that’s cardboard or cans, plastics or paper, the secret is to ensure that contamination is kept to a minimum.

We recognise that separating and segregating different types of waste can be a challenge, which is why we have a team of experienced and knowledgeable staff on hand to provide advice and guidance on the best solutions available.

From separate bin collection systems to education and awareness campaigns, we work closely with our customers, many of whom have won awards for their commitment to waste and recycling.

Our MRF facilities across the south have the latest technology to sort, segregate and bale different materials ready for onward shipment for reprocessing and manufacturing into new products.

But we can’t do it without our customers’ commitment to providing a helping hand.

When some MRF facilities are closing, most recently the 100,000 tonnes-per-year capacity facility at Tilbury Docks in Essex, for which the owners cited “poor trading conditions”, that commitment to quality recycling is more valuable than ever.

The MRF Code of Practice means all MRFs now have to analyse recyclable material in much more detail than ever before and report to the Environment Agency. In addition, commodity prices have dropped significantly, prices for some materials such as steel, aluminium, paper and cardboard have fallen by as much as 50%.

This is at a time when we are unfortunately seeing increased contamination levels at our MRFs, something we are keen to reverse.

We know it isn’t just a UK problem. On a recent trip to Waste Expo in the US, we heard exactly the same issues from many of the American waste companies that we spoke with.

Recently, one waste chief said there was a “nationwide crisis” in US recycling, with many facilities running at a loss.

On the one side, a combination of falling oil prices, a strong US dollar and a weaker economy in China have sent prices for American recyclables crashing down; while at the same time, the drive towards increasing recycling rates by providing bigger bins has seen householders become much more laissez-faire about what they throw away.

Without the need to sort waste at the kerbside, the “one size fits all” approach has led to a huge jump in contaminated waste, which then costs far more to separate and leads to a poorer quality and less valuable recyclate.

Grundon Materials Recovery Facility
Grundon Materials Recovery Facility

It’s a lesson which we here in the UK need to keep a watchful eye on. At Grundon, we are continuing to invest in our industry-leading facilities, but we must do everything we can to ensure the quality of the mixed recycled waste arriving at our plants is as clean as possible.

We have the tools and facilities to make recycling as easy as possible, the expertise is at the end of a phone and, best of all, by keeping contamination down, our customers will avoid any additional charges.

A win for our customers and a win for us too.

To find out more about MRFs and recycling, please contact or call 01491 834 311.

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