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Pafa: China’s potential plastic waste ban will hinder UK recycling targets

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Pafa: China’s potential plastic waste ban will hinder UK recycling targets

October 09
10:36 2012

China’s potential plans to prohibit the import of unwashed post-consumer plastics will jeopardise the chance of the UK meeting new Government recycling targets, according to Pafa

The trade body has referred to a recent announcement made by China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection, Ministry of Commerce and National Development and Reform Commission, stating that it will consider strictly enforcing regulations that prohibit the import of unwashed, post-consumer plastics as well as banning the transfer of imported waste to a company other than that allowed by the import licence.

It also will not allow companies to sell unwashed leftover plastic from sorting of imported plastic and paper.

“The new recycling targets, already heavily criticised as unrealistic due to the lack of adequate collection and recycling infrastructure, will fail even sooner than expected if these new developments in the Far East come about,” said Pafa chief executive Barry Turner.

‘Waste industry in the UK’

Turner continued: “This will require a significant investment in Europe to fill the size of the hole created which will require time to develop but such moves would have a huge impact on the waste industry in the UK, especially when it comes to meeting plastic recycling targets set by Defra.

“With much of the 67% of Britain’s plastic waste being exported to the Far East, particularly China, according to Defra statistics, and the UK already desperately short of plastic collection and recycling facilities, I believe reaching the target of 57% by 2017 will be even more unrealistic and out of touch.”

Pafa argues that the change of attitude to reprocessing Europe’s waste in the Far East makes it imperative that Defra urgently rethinks the burden placed on industry in its latest recycling targets.

Turner said: “Last year, Defra was advised against this unachievable level of targets by its own advisory committee and now we are witnessing previously unforeseen moves in the Far East which will make them even more unattainable.

“There is no joined-up thinking on waste and recycling targets and it is clear that the burden of cost and responsibility is being forced on UK manufacturers and retailers at a time they can least afford it.”

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