Our Predictions for The Future Of DMR
The way we see it, in order to adapt to industry demands, there are a number of potential changes that could be in store for the future of DMR.
However, as with all changes, there are pros and cons to each and with so many variations to consider – scale of waste producers, education and mindsets of producers, costs and practicality for producers and waste companies alike – it would be difficult to find a single solution that would work across the board.
With this in mind, here are some of the ways we think DMR could change and what positive/negative impacts could be involved in these changes.
1) Stricter restrictions on material grades and recyclate quality to be standardised for DMR
For DMR to remain a viable solution for the recovery of high-quality recyclates, more restrictions could be applied to recyclates that are currently classed as DMR. By creating more exclusivity for higher grade recyclates, this will increase the value of the materials.
This, however, could become difficult for waste companies to manage/police and also be confusing for waste producers to understand. This confusion would likely lead to contamination, which is already a prominent issue with current DMR services.
2) Single waste stream collections will replace DMR services entirely
Single waste streams are becoming more appealing to commercial and industrial business that want to improve recycling rates and costs. We have seen many of our own larger customers move away from DMR in favour of segregated recyclates.
However, whilst single waste stream collections would have an appeal with large-scale waste producers, it wouldn’t necessarily be ideal for SME’s and companies that produce a lower-quantity of each recyclate waste stream, because of the increase in waste containers, services and costs involved with single waste stream services.
Following the notion of the TEEP Regulation that came into effect in 2015, which required producers to segregate waste only when it is Technical, Economical and Environmentally Practical to do so, now more than ever it would be beneficial to consider how we can make single waste streams a practical concept for SME’s.
This may also change again as the government considers removing ‘Economical’ from the TEEP Regulation. Whilst it’s positive to see the government taking into consideration the need to segregate waste and improve the quality of recyclates, the change has been deemed controversial as it would no-doubt force many waste producers to adopt waste segregation despite it being cost-ineffective..
3) Prices will rise as DMR becomes nothing more than a euphemism for ‘Light General Waste’
As we mentioned earlier in the pitfalls of DMR, the cost of DMR services has already been increasing in the industry, to cover processing costs and low-recyclate values. Over time, the contamination and low-recovery rates of DMR will continue to increase the cost until it is at a similar price point to general waste.
The lower price is arguably one of the biggest appeals for DMR services – it encourages waste producers to segregate their waste for better recovery rates. Without the incentive of cost saving and reducing recyclate rates, this could see many waste producers retreating to just having one service for general waste.
This would be a huge step back for the UK and would ultimately have a knock-on effect for our recycling rates, with more recyclates being unrecovered and sent to Energy from Waste facilities and landfill sites as a consequence.
4) Attention could turn to simplified co-mingled waste stream
A middle ground between DMR and single waste streams would be to introduce simpler co-mingled waste streams that, whilst not as effective as single waste streams, would be an effective step up from the “everything but the kitchen sink” approach that is DMR.
In fact, we have already begun adopting this strategy here at JWS, by working with some customers to segregate their recyclates into three distinct waste streams: Paper & Cardboard, Plastic Bottles & Cans and Glass.
In our opinion, changes to current DMR services are a must if the UK wants to increase the quality of our recyclates and ensure we improve our recycling rates. However, DMR services have been a staple in the waste industry for many years and adapting (or removing) this service will be a monumental change to commercial waste services.
Change is never easy, but with the future of DMR hanging in the balance, it’s clear that current DMR services cannot continue as they are with the current recycling market demands.