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Quality Counts


Quality Counts

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									Quality Counts                                                                                 Fac t S h e e t

 What is Quality Recovered      Why Does Quality Count?
 Paper?                         There are four main reasons why the
                                quality of recovered paper is important:

 ‘Quality recovered paper’      1. Impact on machinery
 is used paper and board        Paper machines are large, complex and       paper and board being rejected by the
                                expensive pieces of machinery, costing in   customer that in turn may raise the
 which has been collected
                                the region of £200 million each.            production costs of the final product and
 from the waste stream                                                      impact on its competitiveness. If this
 and can be used, without       Running at 40mph to 60mph, foreign          were to happen too frequently, recycling
 further sorting, in the        material such as glass or glue can have     would no longer be an economical
                                serious implications on the wear and        option and the future of secondary
 paper making process           tear of a machine, and in some cases can    reprocessing would be threatened.
 to make new paper and          cause a complete shut down. It has been
 board products. This is best   estimated that a complete shut down of      3. Environmental impact
                                a paper machine can cost a company up       If a batch of recovered paper is deemed
 achieved by segregating
                                to £60,000 per hour.                        to be of too poor a quality, reprocessors
 the used paper at the                                                      may have no alternative but to send it
 source of its production                                                   back to the producer for further sorting,
 in order to minimise                                                       or send it to be landfilled or incinerated.
                                                                            This is especially damaging given the
 contamination during the                                                   resources and energy required to collect
 recovery process.                                                          and sort the material in the first place.

                                                                            If poor quality material manages to get
 Contaminants include:
                                                                            into the paper making process, it can
   •	 plastics;                                                             have a negative impact on the efficiency
   •	 glass;                                                                of the machines or require increased
   •	 burnt paper;              2. Impact on the customer                   chemical additions to overcome the
                                Using good quality recovered paper          problems. Both of these scenarios can
   •	 cans and metals;          ensures that the end paper and board        lead directly to higher carbon emissions
   •	 grease, oil and dirt;     product is also of good quality. Paper      from the paper mill itself and from the
   •	 food debris and other     and board made from recovered paper         chemical industry.
                                must match the physical, performance
     organic matter;
                                and visual characteristics of comparable    Whereas recycling paper stores
   •	 rain and moisture;        products made from virgin fibre. A          carbon in a solid form, landfilling and
   •	 papers not suitable for   product made from contaminated paper        incineration causes the paper to break
     recycling.                 may compromise product quality in           down and release carbon gases into the
                                terms of strength, print quality, food      atmosphere. This has an adverse effect
                                safety or visual presentation, and may      on our environment, and exacerbates
                                not be acceptable for the end customer.     global warming.

                                Poor quality recovered paper increases      In 2006, the Waste and Resource Action
UPDATED: September 2009 the chances of entire batches of finished           Programme (WRAP) produced a report,

                                  1 Rivenhall Road, Swindon SN5 7BD, Phone: 01793 889600, Fax: 01793 878700
                                  Web: Email:
Quality Counts                                                                                         Fac t S h e e t

entitled “Environmental Benefits                                 together in one box and collected, mixed, in the same
of Recycling”, which provided                                    vehicle before being sorted out again at a Materials
a comprehensive review of                                        Recovery Facility (MRF). This is particularly common
international life cycle analysis (LCA).                         with newer Local Authority kerbside collection
This demonstrated the huge benefits                              schemes. It is thought that the amount of material
of recycling over both incineration                              rejected at the MRF due to contamination is upwards of
and landfill, concluding that the UK’s                           10% and this does not take account of the potential for
current recycling of those materials                             further material to be rejected at the reprocessor due to
(including paper and board) saves between 10 - 15                output contamination.
million tonnes of CO2 equivalents each year compared
to the current mix of landfill and incineration with             “Segregated”
energy recovery.                                                 “Segregated” collection is a system where recyclables
                                                                 are sorted into different compartments of a collection
4. Economic impact                                               vehicle depending on material (paper, glass, cans,
Currently, much of the poorly sorted paper recovered             plastic etc), thereby removing the need for sorting
from the UK waste stream is exported to destinations             at a MRF. Segregated collections tend to produce
such as India, Indonesia and China. There, labour costs          cleaner, less contaminated recyclates, with a typical
are lower and reprocessors can afford to sort the batch          contamination level of <1%1.
of recovered paper by hand. However, no mill in the
world can make paper from plastics, metals or glass,             “Twin-Stream” or “Dual-Stream”
and this system simply creates a new waste stream                A third method, “twin stream” or “dual stream”, sees
outside of the UK that must still be managed in an               the collection of material in two batches: typically
environmentally sound manner. It is still UK waste but           with paper and card being segregated from other
is no longer under the “duty of care” of the UK, and             recyclables at the point of collection. In this way, paper
this can be seen as contrary to the overall principle of         can be kept clean and free of contaminants whilst the
recycling.                                                       remaining recyclables are sent to a MRF for resorting; a
                                                                 much simpler task without paper and card.
PaperChain has doubts as to the long term
sustainability of these markets. When a downturn                 Drawing on the latest research,
in export market demand arises, as seen during the               the Waste and Resources Action
second half of 2008, the UK may end up with large                Programme (WRAP) has developed
quantities of poor quality recovered material with               guidance entitled “Choosing the
nowhere for it to go but landfill or incineration. This          right recycling collection system”1.
could threaten the future of the whole UK recycling              In line with the views of material
infrastructure and may be a hurdle for the development           reprocessors, the guidance advises
of new recycled content paper and board reprocessing             that, where practical, segregated
investment in the UK.                                            collection systems “should be
                                                                 preferred”. Segregated collections, it suggests, “offer
There is also a risk that some of this material is               reliable material quality and lower net costs for council
being shipped in breach of the EU Waste Shipment                 taxpayers” and, in contrast to a popular misconception,
Regulations, as the quality can be so poor. This is high         are “capable of capturing the same volume of material
on the public and political agenda with the current              as co-mingled schemes”. Commingled collection
focus on UK recycling.                                           systems should only be implemented in areas where
                                                                 segregated collection systems are impractical; in high-
                                                                 rise flats, for example.
Choosing the right collection system
The level of contamination can largely depend upon               Where there is no choice but to opt for a co-mingled
the type of collection method used:                              collection system, PaperChain would recommend
                                                                 the following actions be taken in an attempt to keep
Single Stream (co-mingled)                                       contamination to a minimum:
Contamination is particularly prevalent in “single
stream” (co-mingled) collection schemes. This is where            •	 put your paper and cardboard into a carrier bag to
all recyclables - paper, glass, cans, plastic etc - are stored       keep it clean and free from other contaminants;

                                                                                                               Page 2 of 3
Quality Counts                                                                                    Fac t S h e e t

    •	 ensure your tins and jars are both clean and dry        Where can I get more information?
       before placing them in your recycling box;
                                                                 Confederation of Paper Industries
    •	 ensure the lid of your recycling box closes tightly       1 Rivenhall Road
       before placing it outside for collection, to prevent      Swindon, Wiltshire SN5 7BD
       rain and damp from penetrating the box and being          Tel: 01793 889600
       absorbed by the paper;                                    Fax: 01793 878700
    •	 don’t include paper or cardboard that is highly
       contaminanted with food residues, such as greasy          PaperChain
       pizza boxes or fish and chip wrappers, into your          1 Rivenhall Road,
       recycling box;                                            Swindon, Wiltshire SN5 7BD
                                                                 Tel: 01793 889612
    •	 don’t include pieces of broken glass, such as a jar       Fax: 01793 878700
       that has been dropped.                                    Website:

  Choosing the right collection system, WRAP 2009                Newsprint and Newspaper Industry                   Environmental Action Group (NNIEAG)
right_recycling_collection_system.adfa8a31.7179.pdf              1 Rivenhall Road,
                                                                 Swindon, Wiltshire SN5 7BD
                                                                 Tel: 01793 889637
PAS 105 2005                                                     Website:
The Waste and Resources Action
Programme (WRAP), together with                                  Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP)
PaperChain and other members of                                  The Old Academy
the secondary raw material supply                                21 Horse Fair
chain, has developed a Publicly                                  Banbury, Oxon OX16 0AH
Available Specification (PAS) in an                              Tel: 01295 819900
effort to improve recovered paper                                Fax: 01295 819911
quality from the domestic waste                                  Website:
                                                                 Recycle Now Campaign
PAS 105 makes recommendations for, and gives                     Website:
guidance on, good practice for the collection, handling          If you have any questions, you can either
and processing of recovered paper intended for                   ring the Recycle Now Helpline on
recycling within UK end markets. It is applicable to             0845 331 3131, or drop them an email.
paper collected by local authorities, local authority
contractors, community groups and charities from                 Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee
households and other sources that generate similar               (LARAC)
material to households.                                          PO Box 28
                                                                 Knighton, Powys LD8 2WA
It is imperative that quality is built into the process now,     Tel: 01544 267860
to ensure that the material is recovered in such a way           Fax: 01544 267860
that provides the best economic and environmental
option for the entire recycling chain. Significant carbon
reduction can be achieved by recycling the material
instead of landfilling or incinerating it, but only if
the material is of a quality that can allow efficient

Further information can be found at the following

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