Insider View: Co-founder Geof Robins Explains Current Issues with Cross-Contamination

Insider View: Co-founder Geof Robins Explains Current Issues with Cross-Contamination

My brother Don and I started Printwaste 35 years ago collecting waste paper from printers – clue to our company name there! Don looked after the accounts and drove a van collecting the paper, and I became responsible for sorting, baling and marketing the paper to the paper mills.

However, to say it was all just paper that we collected was not quite correct as there were different grades within the paper mix from the printers which needed to be sorted and separated before baling and dispatching to the paper mills for onward recycling. Mills have different requirements for their feedstock waste paper depending on the products that they make. It’s important to them to be able to rely on their suppliers to send in the desired quality of material to suit their processes. The paper mills came to recognise that paper delivered from Printwaste met their specification and no contamination of different paper was prevalent allowing the mills to pass the waste paper through for easier recycling.

Now turn the clock forward 35 years and now employing over 70 staff over two sites, Don and I still own the company sharing many duties and responsibilities that come with a growing business. I still manage the marketing of material to end processors and oversee the quality of the recycled products in conjunction with our staff who have become as passionate as we are about the ethos of our company. This has become ever more demanding, as we now handle almost 50,000 tonnes p.a. over many different waste streams – still paper of course, but now cardboard, plastics, metals, glass, wood and many more. Again we remain renowned within the waste processing industry for quality of product.

However, demands put on across the whole of UK  waste industry for cleaner and better quality of material is higher than I have witnessed in our 35 years of trading. This is due to a number of different factors, which includes the new laws in the Far East banning contaminated material that was accepted up to a year ago, which has led to European processors implementing similar measures. A real and major issue is from low grade material coming from those waste companies, MRF operators, that collect co-mingled mixed recycling that is loose within bins. Cross contamination has always been a problem but has been accepted until now. Processors are tightening their quality controls and this brings these measures across the whole industry.

It is therefore vitally important that we work together to provide good, clean and separated recycling waste and this starts with you, our customer. What we collect from you affects what we send to the paper mills and processors, so work with us, so we can maintain sustainable and continued recycling levels by providing the separated materials.

Our team of advisors are always available to help; a chat on the phone or a visit to your sites and offices will help with your recycling efforts and I urge you to get in touch with us should you need any help or advice.