£1 billion investment would end UK plastic exports, Viridor-commissioned research finds


A report commissioned by Viridor has found that £1 billion investment in the UK recycling infrastructure would end UK plastic exports.

Undertaken by consultancy Anthesis, the research discovered that the amount of plastic packaging ending up in household recycling bins is set to increase by 45% by 2035.


Without additional investment, the infrastructure gap will increase to 1 million tonnes per year and 0.645 million tonnes per year for reprocessing. According to the report, this means exports of plastic will increase beyond the current 500,000 tonnes per year.

The report, Bridging the Gap: Ending the UK’s Reliance on Plastic Waste Export, noted that £1 billion of investment would be required to end these exports.

This would lead to 46 extra facilities across the UK, create 1,100 permanent skilled green jobs and further 975 in the supply chain, and deliver economic benefits of over £3 billion across 25 years.

In particular, this investment would benefit the North West of England most, followed by the South East, South West and Wales.

Viridor director of ESG Tim Rotheray said: “When people put out their plastic recycling each week, they expect that material to be recycled in the UK.

“Ending plastic waste export is not only the right thing to do but also a major employment opportunity across the UK. New policy could unlock up to £1 billion in new industrial facilities up and down the country.

“Businesses are ready to invest and policy reforms have the potential to address the barriers identified in this report, while putting the UK on track for a circular plastics economy.”