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Recycling: Standards

Volume 468: debated on Wednesday 28 November 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment his Department has made of the effect on the quality and value of recycled material of separating waste for recycling. (168558)

Market values for recovered materials depend on the supply and demand conditions in end-use markets (which may be overseas) as well as factors including volume, the price of substitute materials (including virgin materials), energy prices and other commodity prices.

The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) produces a monthly Materials Pricing Report, available on its website, which focuses on prices for recovered materials. This indicates that higher prices are achieved for materials which have been effectively sorted into economically valuable components. For example, the market value of recycled aluminium cans is around £700-£750 per tonne compared to £150 per tonne for mixed cans.

WRAP’s advice is that, at the present time, kerbside sorting delivers better quality materials to the marketplace and with lower levels of contamination compared to co-mingled collections of recyclables. This improved quality may not currently be reflected in market prices. However an advantage of kerbside sorting is that the benefits from the sale of materials tend to accrue directly to the local authority selling the materials while co-mingled schemes involve the payment of gate fees for additional sorting.