Recycling Association pleased that Defra has shown value of recycling exports


The Resource Management: a catalyst for growth and productivity report has been welcomed by the Recycling Association.

Produced by Defra, the report showed that exports of recycling contribute £3.9 billion to the UK trade balance.


Recycling Association chief executive Simon Ellin (pictured) said: “We are particularly pleased to see a tacit acknowledgment that the Government recognises the important contribution of, and balance between, the UK and export markets.

“The Recycling Association would welcome further re-processing investment in the UK across multi-materials. because as the report acknowledges, it adds tangible benefits to the UK economy on many levels.

“We are though very encouraged to read positive acknowledgement of the contribution the export market has had and will continue to have on the UK waste industry. We have argued long and hard in support of the role exports have to play and often in the face of inaccurate and sensationalist comments from decision makers and journalists.

Simon Ellin will be speaking on the trends in the recovered paper market at Secondary Commodity Markets 2015 – the conference for buyers and sellers of recyclable materials on 3 March 2015 in London. Find out more here

“Without export, the UK industry wouldn’t have grown on this scale and neither will it continue to grow without it. Exporting provides markets for surplus materials that cannot be utilised in the UK, it adds competition in the market place, it creates jobs, it generates wealth and, as recognised in the report, is often a wonderful example of a circular economy.

“We would however like to see the regulators recognise this too. While agreeing that exporting must be controlled, we still face an inordinate number of barriers in the way. We are still awaiting clear guidance as to what is actually allowed in green list waste and what isn’t.

“There is a massive disparity of interpretation even between the UK competent authorities – I have been in the recovered paper and plastics sectors all my working life and I still don’t know what the definitive level of out throw is.

“We all agree that quality is the key, but what quality protocol are we working to? I don’t like the idea that some members are treated like common criminals for shipping small percentages of non-hazardous out throw when firstly, we don’t know the exact legal boundaries and secondly, we could move the same material within the UK without any scrutiny and without breaking any laws.

“In the same vain, we want a level playing field in the Packaging Recovery Note system (PRN/PERN) – we did not agree with the system skewing to export rather than UK for plastics and we do not agree with the views of some in the plastics sector that say we should force obligated companies to buy the PRN over the PERN.

“Ultimately, the balance between UK and export needs to be a totally level and left to market forces to dictate where material is processed. By doing so, the UK recycling industry as a whole will benefit and we can continue to build on the successes outlined in Defra’s report.”