Recycling Quality Information Point (ReQIP)
6 January 2020
Project context and outline
Following the closure of the Resource Association in 2019, the ReQIP database has been handed over to Resource Future. The information detailed in this database was last refreshed in 2014.
The Resource Association worked with all parts of the recycling supply chain with the aim of improving the consistency and quality of recyclate available to UK reprocessors and for legal export to markets in other countries.
The Recycling Quality Information Point (ReQIP) project brought together information from a wide range of reprocessors about their quality requirements for the recyclates they received, and highlighted what they classed as ‘prohibited materials’ which could affect the integrity of their raw material.
The project was co-ordinated by Peter Mansfield and Associates Ltd on behalf of the Resource Association.
Note: Details of the ReQIP project are provided here for information; the project itself has been archived. For more information about ReQIP please contact Sam Reeve.
The project published three key elements:
- Summary Quality Specifications Table;
- Sample Specification Documents; and a
- Contamination Value Chart.
Together, all the documents spell out clearly what UK recycling industries need and can tolerate in terms of contamination to their primary feedstock requirement, and allow the reader to make judgements based on your desire to maximise value from recyclate collected.
The information provided in these three documents, by necessity, gave a generalised view, but were based on detailed information from many reprocessors and the experienced view of industry experts of good repute.
The data set was designed to provide information of use to local authorities and companies servicing the C&I sector as they determine the best ways to collect recycling in their local area, in the absence of any formal guidance from Government in England at that time. The ReQIP information should be read alongside other valuable sources of information, all gathered within the WRAP Resource Hub, and including the Waste Regulations Route Map.
Defining high quality recycling
The Resource Association defined “high quality recycling” as material that can be collected and re-processed into the same or a similar product – an integral element of the ‘circular economy’. However, in order to achieve this, raw material suppliers need to meet the Quality Specifications given here.
Contamination: The enemy of recycling
To promote high quality recycling, The Resource Association commissioned a short film to highlight the challenge of contaminated recyclates for UK reprocessors and to promote a high quality approach to recycling collection, entitled: ‘Contamination – The Enemy of Recycling‘. The video illustrates in some detail the issues the UK manufacturing industry faces from the material that comes from many British households.
Representative of UK reprocessing
When launched in June 2014, ReQIP co-ordinated the approved input of 36 companies and industry associations, representing the quality specifications information for annual UK recyclate reprocessing of 12,917,800 tonnes of key materials. This included the range of materials subject to the attention of legislation on separate collection (paper, metals, glass and plastics), as well as wood and green wastes and others such as textiles and batteries.
Improving information flow between local authorities and reprocessors
Many local authorities had fairly limited direct contact with the reprocessing sector as a result of contracting out collection and sorting services to other companies. The information provided by ReQIP aimed to refresh interest in the impact that collection and sorting of recyclate has at the point of the end user, and remind everybody involved that recycling does not take place until material is properly reprocessed by an end user – collection is an important intermediary point in the process.
At launch, the ReQIP project was publicly supported by: Alliance for Beverage Cans and Environment (ACE-UK), Aylesford Newsprint, Lawrence M Barry & Co, Berryman, Biffa Polymers, Closed Loop Recycling, ECO Plastics, Environcomp Global, G&P Batteries, Huhtamaki (Lurgan), Lower Reule Bioenergy, MTM Plastics, Novelis Recycling, Palm Recycling, Regain Polymers, Renewable Energy Association (Organics Group), Salvation Army Trading Co, DS Smith, Recycling, Smurfit Kappa Recycling, Timberpak, UPM, White Moss Horticulture and Wood Recyclers Association.
The ReQIP outputs did not seek to define preferred collection systems for the maximising of high quality recycling. At the time when ReQIP was developed, the UK Government had defined separate collection in a particular way through transposition of the rWFD and this had been tested in the courts. Further guidance from Government on what constituted technically, environmentally, and economically practicable (TEEP) had been made available in Wales but not in England. The information provision was the Resource Association’s contribution to the challenge set by English Ministers at Defra to industry to come up with advice for local authorities on this issue.
A number of market sectors were in their relative infancy (such as nappy recycling, plastic bag recycling) at the time of collation so no detailed specifications were available for publication.