UK – Paper recycling and mill business DS Smith has reiterated its call for the government to mandate separate collections of paper and board from households and businesses.

The company claims there is evidence that the higher contamination rates and “material loss” in commingled collections “drag down” the “true recycling rate” of paper and card.

John Melia, Director of Strategy and Innovation for DS Smith’s recycling division, said: “There is a real opportunity here for the UK government and stakeholders in the recycling supply chain to work together to improve recycling in the UK both in terms of quantity and quality.”

The company issued its call as part of a briefing paper on source segregation published on 15 August.

Under the government’s proposals for consistent collections across England, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) wants local authorities to collect recyclable waste streams separately from each other.

But TEEP allows councils to make a case for collecting paper and card commingled with other material and DS Smith is “concerned” that exemptions will continue to apply to the revised legislation.

DS Smith believes “the UK’s existing housing infrastructure shouldn’t be a barrier to implementing source segregation”, meaning it should be ‘technically practicable’ to collect paper and card separately.

The company claims that the environmental benefits of collecting paper and card separately “greatly outweigh” any adverse effects.

DS Smith also believes that ‘economic practicability’ should not be used by local authorities as an argument against the separate collection of paper and card.

The company claims the proposed fees councils will receive under extended producer responsibility (EPR) for packaging would cover “a significant proportion” of the collection costs.

DS Smith produces 840,000 tonnes of paper a year from nearly 1 million tonnes of “recovered paper or paper for recycling” at its Kemsley mill.

The company claims England’s plans to collect plastic film from households by 2028 will “create a significant and further risk of contamination in the paper and board stream”.

Should the commingling of paper and card with other materials continue, DS Smith says, the material would “likely be too heavily contaminated for use in paper mills in the UK and overseas”.

The material would also not meet European EN643 standards, which are used for exports.

As a result, DS Smith claims: “Paper and card from commingled sources would likely end up in energy recovery facilities, rather than paper mills.”

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