Is low quality material UK recycling’s biggest threat?

Recyclable Consumables

A recent survey confirmed that UK recycling industry experts said that 59% of respondents advised that low-quality material will be a great threat to the industry. While 34% said that legislative ambiguity could be a bigger threat to maintaining present recycling activities.

Only 2% of experts expressed worry in regards to global competition within the recycling industry, only a few mentioned their concerns with illegal trading.

At the Quality First Recycling Conference, April 2017, delegates were asked ‘what posed the biggest threat to the UK’ recycling industry’ and the results spoke for themselves. Low material quality was the majorities first choice.

Simon Ellin, CEO, The Recycling Association, commented: “The UK’s recycling sector faces many challenges just to maintain the status quo, but frequently the emphasis is placed on global competition and how that impacts the market. “The fact is that if we produce poor quality material, global competition is insignificant. Unless our quality is a match for that produced elsewhere, we might just as well shut up shop. 

Quality has been talked about for decades now – but little has changed. I’m glad that most of our delegates recognise the seriousness of the situation. We now need to take that understanding and effect change, which was what the whole conference was about.”

The four key topics at The Quality First Recycling Conference focussed on opportunities in the industry that will improve current quality to give the UK a competitive edge worldwide. The main highlights from the conference were:

  • The requirement for a full supply chain approach – For recycling companies, local authorities and other companies within the chain to commit to working together rather than separately.
  • Raise concerns with differences in quality control and expectations in a range of markets.
  • Working under ambiguous regulatory landscape and the consequences of non-compliance.
  • Large brands and their progressive work

Adrian Jackson, Chair of The Recycling Association, confirmed: “This conference is one of the first milestones on our journey to kick start change. The presentations were meant to fuel debate and unearth opinions that will inspire new behaviours.

There were many divergent opinions and suggestions and under this campaign, we will now assess those and develop a strategy to see where we can drive changes most effectively.

The Recycling Association’s Quality First committee will now meet and prepare a full report on how it proposes the UK recycling supply chain should tackle quality. The report will be published in July 2017.

“By pulling together, and getting more support along the way, we are confident that we will drive change.” 

For more information about the event please read this article.