By Ranjit S. Baxi
We are living in a throw-away society and but what's discarded is an important uncooked fabric and factor being traded as a useful commodity world wide. Baxi highlights the pressures and demanding situations dealing with governments and the industry.
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Additional info for Recycling our future: a global strategy
The ability to find a home for low grade mixed paper is going to become a challenge. China, India, Indonesia, in fact all the traditional markets, are now very heavily quality focused while we in Europe are doing the opposite by trying to recycle increased volumes of collection with less focus on quality. In the next four to five years the operators of old style MRFs will have a serious problem in marketing their products because on the one hand they are too costly to handle and on the other they are producing a product which the end recipient is not going to buy because it is classified as non-usable waste.
Regrettably, the EOW regulations for waste paper are still pending ratification by the Parliament in Brussels. 38 Industry drivers The impact of this changing climate for MRFs could prove terminal. The ones that are unable to provide 100 per cent good material clear of contamination or those grades to be within allowable range will struggle to survive. When countries like China came in with their Green Fence controls MRFs not able to produce the correct standard could not market their product and they are now being forced either to close or increase investments in more mechanised sorting systems in order to produce a product which would have a market.
Biodegradable plastic is thicker than ordinary plastic and when it ‘degrades’ into landfills it does not disappear; indeed in volume terms it takes up more space albeit in tiny pieces. The industry has been trying to resolve the problem by changing the structure of the plastic used in such things as supermarket bags and looking at producing polyethylene from everything from sugar cane to sugar beet and wheat grain so when they are disposed of they do cause less environmental damage. We should also remember the additional processing costs of producing biodegradable plastic – the raw materials used and the energy expenditure.