Let’s get paper
The household paper and card we all put into
Our paper has value
Our Paper is an industry-backed initiative working with the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), with a mission to encourage and support local authorities across the UK to find ways of improving the quality of paper and card they collect from the kerbside.
Once paper and card has been collected from the kerbside if it meets the right quality requirements it can be used in the manufacturing process to make new paper and card products. Contaminated paper and card can cause significant damage to mills, devaluing the paper and potentially leaving it unfit to be recycled.
The household paper and card (fibre) we all put into recycling has value. But contaminated material won’t be accepted by recycling plants, costing local authorities money and condemning it to waste.
In 2018 the UK collected 7.7 million tonnes of paper and card, of which 3.1 million tonnes was re-processed domestically and 4.6 million tonnes exported.
Changes in the export markets for fibre have highlighted the need for improved quality, with export restrictions being put on contamination levels, types of material that can
be exported and volumes that can be accepted in these
China, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam have all sought to stop poor quality fibre imports, voicing concerns over material quality, and restricting the volumes
that can be accepted. China, which is a main UK export destination, will potentially implement a full ban on fibre by 2020 if material quality cannot be improved. Only fibre of the right quality will ensure a sustainable market.
China is set to ban all fibre imports by 2020
The cost to you
The problem is landing in the laps of those responsible for collecting the paper and card from the kerbside – local authorities.
Paper and card account for around 50% of recycling collected from UK homes. Estimates suggest that the extra sorting for comingled streams and dealing with contamination could increase the costs to individual local authorities by as much as £500,000 a year.
That’s no trifling amount for cash-strapped councils in Britain today. Worse, this material could end up as waste if it does not meet quality requirements for
It’s a complicated situation and will become all the more complex as new recycling targets have an impact over the next few years.
Extra measures could cost £500,000 a year
So what’s the solution?
One answer is separate collections of fibre. As part of its strategy for improving the consistency of recycling collections, WRAP found that more kerbside sorting for materials could save local authorities as much as £400m over eight years. It would also inject up to £478m-worth of dry recyclables back into the economy and boost the UK’s recycling rate by up to seven percentage points.
Related research in Wales found that separate fibre collections would also generate much lower post-collection sorting costs than other methods and a higher income from materials. Any set up costs for separated collections would be returned in less than two years.
So by improving the quality and quantity of paper and card they collect, local authorities can tap into new markets for the material, boost their own income in the process, give better value to local taxpayers and protect the environment. Everybody stands to win.
Our Paper was launched by the Confederation of Paper Industries (CPI) and its members, with the support of the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), to brief local authorities on the changing market and to work with them on strategies to ensure their paper and card meets mill requirements.
Our Paper has a mission: to help local authorities across UK collect a better quality of paper and card from the kerbside. We need to raise the standard of this material because we need to get better value from our recycling.
We offer a free consultation service to help you secure the future for your paper and card recycling.
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