The study, which will be undertaken by RPS Consulting Engineers, will examine samples of materials collected separately for recycling to assess typical levels of contamination in five key materials – paper, card, glass, plastics and metals.

The research forms a key part of Scottish Government proposals to maximise high quality recycling through its Zero Waste Plan.

New waste regulations, which were passed by the Scottish Parliament in May 2012, require key recyclable materials to be collected separately from one another, except where it can be demonstrated that a mixed or ‘commingled’ collection can achieve similar levels of quality.

By creating a benchmark for quality levels typically obtained through separate collections, the research will inform how the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) enforces the new regulations.

According to Zero Waste Scotland director Iain Gulland, the work will give operators of commingled collections a clear indication of the standards they might be expected to meet to comply with the regulations.

“Maximising quality is essential if we are to realise the economic and environmental benefits of recycling and develop a more circular economy,” he said.

In total, the research will analyse both household and commercial and industrial waste from 162 sites across the UK, including local authorities, bulking stations, transfer stations, and reprocessors.

Maxine Perella

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