According to a new report from RECOUP, local authorities are experiencing issues with the plastics market, with nearly half stating that market values have been impacted following the China ban.
Since the Chinese Government revealed that it would prohibit the import of post-consumer plastics, exporters looked for alternatives destinations and started to send it to Malaysia, Vietnam and Poland.
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From this, these countries saw a wave of this material being sent there, with the UK as the main exporter, and as a result, tougher import restrictions and import bans were put in place for these destinations.
RECOUP explored the impact this had on local authorities in its new report Local Authority Plastics End Market Analysis.
Findings showed that over half of local authorities stated that they were facing issues with the plastic markets.
Financially stretched local authorities are now making choices as they attempt to balance the increase in consumer interest in recycling, with contamination levels in recycled material, said RECOUP.
While there is an increased interest from consumers in recycling, they are “increasingly recycling plastics that are not target material or not presenting them in an optimal way”, such as removing excess food.
RECOUP said that the current systems are not able to handle the various and complex nature of the material.
In response to the four consultations that have just closed from the UK Government that aim to meet commitments set out in the Resources and Waste Strategy and the 25-year Environment Plan, RECOUP believes that new funding and infrastructure systems should increase.
It also believes that investment should focus on transforming consumer collections, material sorting and recycling of post-consumer packaging, with the development of UK-based end markets being a central factor of this.
RECOUP technical manager Steve Morgan said: “The UK has a once in a generation opportunity to really grow its plastic recycling infrastructure and capabilities. Through innovation to create new and better markets, development of state-of-the-art recycling facilities to use recycled plastics in manufactured products, the UK can become world leaders in plastic resource management.”