BPI chairman slams the illegal export of plastic scrap


The chairman of British Polythene Industries (BPI) has launched a scathing attack on the activities of illegal waste exporters.

During a speech at the formal opening of BPI’s latest 25,000 tonne per annum waste farm plastics recycling line to an audience of 110 guests, Cameron McLatchie accused the illegal exporters, who are exporting heavily contaminated waste farm plastics as a green waste, of potentially undermining the entire UK structure for exporting recovered plastics for recycling overseas.


He said: “Because of the high levels of non-plastic contamination contained in waste farm films [such as] dirt, sand, plus general farmyard waste and effluents, Defra and the EA have rightly classified this waste as ‘notifiable’ under the Waste Regulations and this waste should only be collected with appropriate paperwork, and exported from the UK after notifying the EA.

“Sadly, since we approved the expenditure for this facility of £4.5 million, the export of this type of waste from the UK has increased, as waste exporters flout requirements by ignoring their responsibility to notify this waste to the EA. This could have serious consequences for the UK, where we currently meet EU recycling targets by exporting ‘green’ waste to the Far East.

“If that export trade in green waste were to be compromised by the inclusion of notifiable waste, then the export of all waste shipments could be compromised, if for any reason the transport of waste from farms was to be suspended for a period due to health or disease fears.

“Already, before we are in operation here at Rhymney, and at our existing agricultural films recycling facility in Dumfries, we are struggling to get waste at an economic price, as waste exporters move farm waste to the Far East. Apart from the issue of not complying with the Transfrontier Shipment Regulations by failing to notify the EA, I fail to see how they are saving the planet by shipping containers of dirt and other contaminants half-way around the world.

“I would urge Defra, the EA and those responsible in the Welsh Assembly to examine closely the illegal activities in this area of the export of waste, to ensure that UK facilities are supported, and that the legitimate export of green waste continues without risk.”

His comments were backed by BPI director of external affairs Mike Baxter. He added: “Cameron is spot on with his speech. We know that a number of major exporters of plastic film waste are including heavily contaminated agricultural farm plastics in their exports of ‘green’ waste.

“Not only is this activity illegal, it also undermines the hard work and efforts of UK collectors who are trying to offer farmers a sustainable option for the disposal of their waste farm films under the red tractors scheme. I would urge all farmers and local collectors of waste farm films to question exactly how, and where, their waste is being recycled.”

The BPI farm plastics recycling line was opened recently with guests from the Government of Wales, the Presidents of the NFU Cymru, the Farmers Union of Wales, WRAP Cymru and representatives from the Welsh recycling, industrial and waste sectors.