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UK recycling targets under threat from China ban

October 18, 2012 at 11:25 am

The CEO of the Packaging and Films Association (PAFA) has given a stark warning to the government that the plastic industry in the UK is unlikely to hit its recycling target of 57% if investment in the plastic recycling infrastructure is not improved.

The warning comes after the Ministry of Environmental Protection in China recently announced that it may start to enforce new regulations to prohibit the import of unwashed consumer plastics from the EU.

If the new tighter restrictions are enforced, this would be a huge blow to the UK’s plastic industry because the Far East is by far the largest market for plastic exports.

Malaysia recently banned imports of all plastic waste from the EU, so if China were to follow suit and announce similar bans, this could have a devastating impact.

Barry Turner, the CEO of PAFA, said that such a ban could see the end of plastic waste exportation to China, and would lead to extra pressure on the plastic industry in the UK to meet its recycling targets set by Defra, which he said were already “unrealistic”.

The current recycling target set by Defra is 57% by 2017, but according to Turner only two local councils – Denbighshire and Staffordshire Moorlands – are close to achieving the target of 57% at the moment.

Mr Turner suggested that much more investment in the infrastructure for dealing with plastic waste in the UK is needed. At present it is not enough to cope should one of our major export markets be cut off.

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