Category Archives: Waste Analysis

Albion’s ABC of Waste Management – Q – Quality Recyclate

How good are your recycling habits? Do you understand how your habits can impact the success of whole recycling operations?

Recycling helps to reduce the carbon emitted from creating new things; it is a crucial aspect of sustainable resource use; and if waste materials are recycled, they are less likely to wind up polluting the environment.

However, the waste recycling industry faces a number of issues – for example, right now it is struggling to maintain the resources it requires to keep up with its demands amid the health crisis we are currently facing due to COVID-19.

Additionally, in a typical year (one that is not hugely affected by a global pandemic!), it can be difficult to find a market for recycled end-products. It can also be hard for waste management companies to source high-quality input materials for the recycling process.

The potential lack of good input materials can hamper the quantity and quality of the new raw materials produced by recycling.

Even just a small amount of waste contamination within incoming materials can wipe out the value of the end-product resources.

Waste management can generally be improved with better collection and sorting of recycling waste. Furthermore, awareness on which materials can and cannot be recycled, and which waste streams should be used for various items, could be enhanced, both within industry and in the public sphere.

For instance, here at Albion we recently conducted a waste compositional survey for a local authority, and found high levels of contamination within multiple waste streams.

The council in question provides householders with multiple types of recycling bins (alongside a residual bin), and each of the bins studied contained some level of contamination:

  • Metal and plastic bins – 13% of the waste content should have been placed in a different type of recycling bin and 19% should have been put in the residual waste bin
  • Paper and card bins – 7% of the waste content should have been placed in a different type of recycling bin and 10% should have been put in the residual waste bin
  • Glass bins – 22% of the waste content should have been placed in a different type of recycling bin and 6% should have been put in the residual waste bin
  • Residual bins – 72.3% of the materials could have been recycled.

Clearly, householders are often getting it wrong when using their recycling bins. This offers an opportunity for enhancing waste management, and more specifically, the quality of recyclates. To increase recyclate quality, it is crucial that more focus is given to education on how to dispose of recyclable materials correctly. Organisations using measures to learn exactly what is in their waste stream, and investing time and money into developing innovative ways to efficiently separate their waste on-site, can often benefit from lower disposal costs, and new revenues.

Here at Albion, we have qualified, experience consultants that can conduct waste analyses, and also help provide expert solutions on how a business or council could improve its waste sorting and collection processes, as well as highlighting the materials that ought to be targeted for this. Upon passing over our findings, we can sit down with the relevant teams and assist in the development of an informed, effective strategy for improving quality of recyclates. Find out more about how we can help with waste compositional surveys here.

Albions ABC of Waste Management – M Materials Recovery Facility

Are you aware of your obligations under the Waste (Recyclate Quality) (Scotland) Regulations 2015?  Albion’s Waste Compositional Analysis team have been providing bespoke training support and ad-hoc expert advice on the requirements for waste sampling and data provision.

A Material Recovery Facility (MRF) is a facility where collected commercial and or household recyclable waste is sorted into different material types. The so called ‘Dirty’ MRFs are those which only accept and sort residual waste.

  • Are you aware of your obligations under the Waste (Recyclate Quality) (Scotland) Regulations 2015?
  • Do you know what data should be reported?
  • Are you aware of the sampling protocol that should be followed?

Since 2015, the sampling and testing at MRFs are covered by two main statutory documents:

  • the Code of Practice on Sampling and Reporting at Materials Recovery Facilities – it aims to improve the quality of output materials by developing standardised testing processes and reporting mechanisms for all input and output materials
  • the Collection and Reporting of Material Recovery Facilities (MRF) Data guidance – it aims to assist operators in complying with the Code of Practice data form. The data reporting is a requirement as set out in the Waste (Recyclate Quality) (Scotland) Regulations 2015 and the associated statutory Code of Practice on Sampling and Reporting at Materials Recovery Facilities.


Both statutory documents above apply to those facilities who hold a licence or permit and that receive/ are likely to receive 1,000 tonnes or more of mixed dry recyclable materials (comprising of two or more materials) or separately collected dry recyclable waste for sorting, over a 12-month period.

Examples of facilities excluded from the Code:

  • Household Waste Recycling Centres (Civic Amenity Sites)
  • MRFs receiving and sorting residual waste only (‘Dirty’ MRFs)
  • Waste Transfer Stations acting only as bulking point (with no sorting activities)
  • WEEE management facilities
  • RDF production facilities
  • MBTs – unless mixed dry recyclable waste is accepted for any MRF operations that form part of the process

Brief on Requirements

The Code of Practice sets out the requirements for sampling, including weight, frequency, reporting periods, measurement and materials to be sampled, and the information to be recorded and reported to SEPA. It requires that MRFs identify materials in relation to what is defined as:

  • Target Material – A material that is specifically targeted by the MRF licence or permit holder as destined to be separated out from other material to facilitate its recycling.
  • Non-target Material – A material that is capable of being recycled but is not a target material for the MRF.
  • Non-Recyclable Material – Waste material that is not capable of being recycled.

Target material that is found in a sample must, as a minimum, be separately identified in the following types:

  • Glass
  • Paper
  • Cardboard
  • Metal
  • Plastic

How we can help

Albion is an experienced training organisation and delivers a wide range of training for organisations across the UK.

Albion’s Waste Compositional Analysis team have been providing training support and ad-hoc expert advice on the requirements based on the MRF statutory documents.

We delivered MRF sampling training programme on behalf of Zero Waste Scotland (ZWS) across all MRF operations in Scotland. We have received approval, from ZWS to use this training material (which is still current and relevant).

Training support can be tailored for each facility’s needs and activities. In general, the approach we have used with clients include the following:

  • Session 1 (Half Day Theory) – This session will work through the Code of Practice and is relevant for Directors, Managers, Supervisors and also the staff that carry out the quality sampling.
  • Session 2 (Full Day Practical) – Deliver one day practical sampling and sorting session for a minimum of 3 staff (max. to be agreed) at your facility, using your equipment.
  • Site Specific MRF Sampling Plan – Using information provided for the training we will provide a Site Specific MRF Sampling Plan for your facility, which can then be integrated into your company procedures.
  • We can also assist with undertaking waste compositional analysis surveys in accordance with relevant guidance.

To find out more or to have an informal chat please contact Jane Bond


Albion staff successfully achieve accredited Scottish Qualification Certificate in HE0T 33 Planning and Delivering Training Sessions to Groups giving them the confidence and skill set to be able to deliver training sessions to our clients.

The qualification is intended for candidates with vocational expertise or subject knowledge whose job role includes the training of others in small group settings (minimum four, maximum seven learners) and in work related learning contexts. It is also suitable for those who aspire to a training role, or who expect to have some responsibility for training as part of a future job role. To find out more please contact us.

Congratulations to Jane Bond (Project & Business Development Director), Andrew Howlett (Principal Consultant), Fraser Christie (Environmental Consultant and Site Technician) and Chris Eccles (Environmental Technician) on their success.

Thank you to trainers Craig Chandler and Davie Fraser for their enthusiastic course delivery on what is a very interactive and engaging course.

Albion’s ABC of Waste Management – I INNOVATION

Innovation is fundamental in transforming the way we use resources within Scotland. Effectively managing our resources is imperative to achieving a circular economy in Scotland. Therefore, some benefits of innovation mirror the advantages gained from a circular economy, such as

  • Environmental – safeguarding resources & lowering reliance on them; reducing waste generated; decreased carbon emissions
  • Economic – improving productivity and resilience; opening up new markets
  • Social – added lower cost options for accessing goods; social enterprise opportunities

A number of businesses have already taken novel and creative approaches to try to achieve a more “circular” operation. There are multiple ways for an organisation to implement more circular initiatives, simultaneously becoming more sustainable, including:

  1. Strategies to reduce consumption – such as the 5p bag charge, which reduced plastic bag usage considerably across the UK – thereby reducing waste and the associated problems
  2. Where it is not possible to lower the level of waste generated, the waste hierarchy should be used to determine how best to manage waste. Organisations should understand the benefits of managing their waste in the best way possible
  3. Some companies reduce the waste they create by altering their business models to try to re-use more items, to divert waste from landfills. For instance, Spruce Carpets are a community enterprise that refurbish and deliver used carpets, giving them a new home instead of throwing them away. CCL North offer a secure option for recycling and refurbishing IT, which means that valuable materials can be retained instead of discarded.
  4. Additionally, redesigning products to ensure that certain components last longer can be an effective means for reducing waste. EGG Lighting, for example, have developed a circular business model whereby only the LED and driver parts of lighting units are replaced, and the rest remains in use. Through their lighting service, businesses can regularly upgrade their lighting technology without replacing entire lighting units, minimising waste generated.
  5. Waste can be seen from a new perspective – it can be a resource that is put to good use. Multiple groups have achieved this, such as Aurora Sustainability (use coffee waste and heat from whiskey distilleries to produce gourmet mushrooms) and Jaw Brew (partnered with Aulds the Bakers to create a zero-waste, vegan beer made from leftover bread rolls).

Clearly, innovation is a great tool for helping society move towards a more circular economy. However, many of the ideas discussed above require more than just innovative thinking; a background knowledge of waste management is also important. Various waste training courses are available to provide an understanding of waste management legislation, – something that may be vital to those wishing to recirculate waste items by using them in their production streams. More information on waste training courses can be found here:

Additionally, if companies wish to redesign their business model to reduce the waste they produce, then conducting a waste analysis can act as an extremely helpful step in determining which waste materials to target. Here at Albion, we can provide a waste analysis – a tool which can be very useful for helping design recyling scheme. For more information please please get in contact or call us to discuss on 01292 610428.


Waste Compositional Analysis – Perth & Kinross Council

Albion Environmental provide specialist Waste Compositional Analysis to Councils in order to assist them with developments of their waste strategies.

As part of the development of Perth and Kinross Council Waste Strategy, and to help influence their recycling, Perth and Kinross Council have produced a short public information video to explain the key findings of the residual waste in Perth & Kinross. Albion Environmental were the contractor carrying out Waste Compositional Analysis of the general waste on three different occasions from 2018 to 2019, to provide the data during the development of their campaign.

Albion staff Les Thomson and Chris Eccles star in the later stages of this video. Hard and dirty work but essential to provide councils with the vital information they need to develop their strategies. Well done Les and Chris!!