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Is Dry Mixed Recycling (DMR) Ethical? You Decide

Sep 17, 2015

Under existing EU legislation it became mandatory from January 2015 for companies from all member states to collect waste paper, metal, plastic and glass must be done by separate collection and they must ensure the waste that has been separately collected is not mixed with other materials of different properties.

This requirement applies to the commercial waste sector, for collection of commercial and industrial waste.

The purpose of the legislation is to promote quality waste for recycling and quality of recycled material (by lowering the level of contamination) as well as identifying and eliminating hazardous compounds in mixed waste in order to reduce impact on the environment.

In the UK, particularly in England this has proved to be highly controversial for Defra to introduce the ‘TEEP’ test.

The legal requirement to separately collect plastic, paper, glass and metal only applies if separate collection is ‘necessary’ and ‘technically’, ‘environmentally’ and ‘economically’ practicable.

Defra’s so called ‘TEEP’ test.

The necessity test: separate collection being necessary to ensure that the waste undergoes a recovery operation in accordance with the waste hierarchy and provisions on protection of the environment and human health and to facilitate or improve recovery.

The practicability test: separate collection being technically environmentally and economically practicable.

‘Technically practicable’ means that a system for separate collection is technically developed and proven to function in practice.

‘Environmentally practicable’ means that the added value of ecological benefits justifies any possible negative effects of separate collection, such as increased emissions.

‘Economically practicable’ means that separate collection does not result in excessive costs in comparison with treatment of non-separated waste stream, taking into account the added value of recovery and recycling and the principle of proportionality.

Two overriding factors will determine the quality and quantity of material from the waste stream.

Firstly strict enforcement of the EN 643 quality standard (Grouped 1 – 5, Ordinary, Medium, High, Kraft, Special) by the environment agencies through out the waste stream and secondly, restrictions on what materials can be sent for energy from waste (EfW). Overcapacity in EfW will inevitably mean that perfectly recyclable waste will end up in incineration and not back at the mills.

The final word goes to CS Recycling’s directors Craig and John Curtis whose family business has been successfully separating and recycling since 1937.

“ Our belief is that the best place to separate the recycling is at source, in other words the person who puts it in the bin. The rest of Europe does it this way, so should the UK”.

This article produced with help from CPI Review 2014-15 and MRW Nov 2014

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