Welsh businesses debate recycling quality versus quantity

The issue of recycling quality versus quantity was hotly debated by Welsh businesses in a session at WRAP's third annual conference in Cardiff.

Held last week (November 3), as part of WRAP's 'Resourcing the Future' conference, the Business Insights session offered a forum for manufacturers, reprocessors and policy-makers to discuss whether the recycling industry should priortise quantity over quality.

Setting the tone for the session, Welsh government environment minister John Griffiths warned that "too much valuable recyclate is exported from Wales, much of it of poor quality because we have not got the collection systems right".

Following on, the minister called for Wales' waste industry to be turned into a "resource management industry", which he said is vital to address future environmental and economic challenges.

Speaking at the event, Excel Industries, a South Wales manufacturer which makes a range of products from recycled paper, managing director Andrew Izod argued that many paper manufactures are not satisfied with the quality of materials available.

As a result, Mr Izod continued, the only option for businesses is to source and sort materials themselves, which presents a challenge for smaller firms which have to compete with larger markets.

He said: "The bulk of our demand is sourced from merchants on the open market, which means we are having to compete with the Chinese and Indian markets. My issue as a small business is how do I access paper before it goes to the big users?"

Commenting on the issue, Environmental Services Association (ESA) policy advisor David Sher, told attendees that the ESA advocates a "fiercely competitive market where players can differentiate themselves on both price and quality".

He added: "We see kerbside sort as a more labour-intensive route and co-mingled as a more capital-intensive route. Co-mingled and kerbside sort methods have different merits. The relative merits of the two might change over time as, for example, technology improves."

More information and speeches from the event can be found here.

Carys Matthews



Waste & resource management
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