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Resource Association defend recycling charter following criticism from the Recycling Association and Environmental Services Association
Ray Georgeson, Chief Executive of the Resource Association, has defended its ‘End Destinations of Recycling Charter’ following criticisms from the Recycling Association and Environmental Services Association (ESA) of being ‘anti-export’.
The charter, published on 7 June by the Resource Association with support from the Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee (LARAC) Executive, invited local authorities in England and Northern Ireland to sign up to a commitment to publish the names and locations of the end destinations of recyclable materials collected from residents. The charter came after a report by YouGov suggested that 32 per cent of people would be willing to recycle more if they knew where their recycling ended up.
Simon Ellin, Chief Executive of the Recycling Association criticised the charter in a press release released on 7 June: “It protects the interests of the UK mills at the detriment of the export market which has underpinned our industry for decades”, said Ellin, adding: “I am uncomfortable that there appears to be what could almost be construed as an anti-export movement on the back of personal vested interests.”
Ellin went on to say: “I shudder to think where the UK recycling industry would be without the export market in the past couple of months for example, when many UK mills have been heavily stocked and have not been buying.” Ellin also questioned the premise of the charter: “Do the general public really want to know which specific UK, Chinese, Indian or Indonesian mills their cardboard or newspapers may end up at?”
Although the ESA welcomed the charter and supported local authority openness with the public about recycling processes, David Sher, ESA’s Policy Advisor for Materials and Energy, also questioned the exact level of information the public needed to be given: “Within the bounds of commercial confidentiality any information that they [the public] can be given that reinforces their awareness of the material that they are putting out for recycling is a good thing. Do they need to know the particular mill to know that the material is being recycled through, I don’t know.”
In a statement issued by the Resource Association today (12 June), Georgeson voiced surprise at the reaction of the Recycling Association and ESA: “The End Destinations of Recycling Charter makes it explicitly clear that our interest is in having transparency of end destination for reprocessing, whether this is in the UK or abroad (point 3 of the Charter). It is not focused on export destinations”, said Georgeson.
“The Recycling Association is therefore wrong to represent our position as an ‘anti-export movement’. Let me restate this – some of our members are involved in export and import of recovered materials as part of managing their UK manufacturing base. We are not ‘anti-export’, but we are very much pro-quality, legal export and will remain so”, said Georgeson, who went on to emphasise that the Resource Association’s priority is to “support the ‘recycling society’ advocated by the European Commission” and advocate the importance in “building the green economy we all want to see”.
“Finally, I am surprised that the Recycling Association and the ESA are both questioning whether the public want clear information on where their recycling actually goes. The results of our public research by YouGov are clear – the public have an appetite for more information and have little knowledge at present” said Georgeson. “Questioning whether the level of detail is actually required (i.e., specific mills and reprocessors) misses the point – the point is that this level of detail is exactly what will improve public knowledge and confidence that their recycling is being managed properly.”
Simon Ellin today told Resource: “We fully respect the views of the Resource Association, and we must all support our members and their position in the marketplace.”
“At the Recycling Association, we take a very pragmatic and balanced viewpoint of the industry. Many of our full members are processing and exporting members, all of whom are operating in an extraordinary economic downturn. The last thing we want at this time is more regulation and red tape which makes our job even harder”, said Ellin, adding: “We want a coherent and level playing field that will allow us the choice of how we process and where we sell our materials to. All our members trade in an ethical and compliant manner and we will continue to fight anything that makes their day to day operations unfeasibly more difficult."
You can read and sign up to The End Destinations of Recycling Charter on the Resource Association’s website.
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