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Exeter passes test to export its cardboard to China

Published: 18 January 2019

Exeter passes test to export its cardboard to China Cardboard collected in Exeter fetches a much higher price in China thanks to high standards of sorting at the MRF

Exeter has passed strict tests to be able to continue exporting card collected from residents to China for recycling.

Officials working on behalf of Chinese Customs gave the card sorted at Exeter City Council’s Materials Reclamation Facility (MRF) the seal of approval.

The high standards of sorting mean the local authority can continue to benefit from much higher prices paid by China, compared to those offered in the UK.

Money from recycling helps bring in a vital income for the Council and pay for key frontline services.

The City Council is able to get £103 per tonne from China for cardboard collected from the kerbside because it is of such good quality. Once it has been through the MRF the cardboard has little or no contamination from other materials.

Other authorities that collect glass as well as cardboard from the kerbside (Exeter only collect glass from bottle banks) often struggle to maintain such a high level product, with broken glass often causing contamination.

Exeter is the only Council in Devon and Cornwall that is able to pass the stringent tests carried out on behalf of Chinese Customs and benefit from such a good rate of income. Other Councils selling outside of China have only been able to achieve £15 to £30 per tonne.

That means that the Council has already brought in £10,000 more than it would have done if it was selling to markets not in China.

Matt Hulland, MRF Manager, said the good work of the MRF team was already paying dividends.

He said getting the all-clear from Chinese Customs was even more of an achievement so soon after Christmas, when contamination levels from recycling are at their highest.

“We’ve been selling our cardboard to China for the last five years but the compliancy has been getting tighter and tighter. The regulations cover the whole import process. The cardboard is even subject to radiation tests!” added Hulland.

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