A ban on importing plastic waste by the Chinese Government will hinder the UK’s plastic industry’s ability to meet recycling targets, according to the Packaging and Films Association (PAFA).
The Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection, Ministry of Commerce and National Development and Reform Commission announced recently that it will enforce 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 will not allow companies to sell unwashed leftover plastic from sorting of imported plastic and paper.
Malaysia also recently announced it would ban plastic waste exports from the European Union.
PAFA chief executive Barry Turner said: “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.
“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 per cent 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 per cent by 2017 will be even more unrealistic and out of touch.
“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.”