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Do we worry about pulling up the drawbridge?

UKIP doesn’t feature very often in MRW – according to the archives, this is only the fourth reference to the party over the past decade.

Most recently, earlier this month we reported how UKIP, emboldened by gains in Norfolk at the local elections, would oppose the controversial EfW plant that the former Conservative rulers had backed.

The other two? Back in April 2005, the then editor wondered if electors would turn to minority groups – such as UKIP – in protest at Government policies and in April 2009, we reported comments from leader Nigel Farage in which he inaccurately claimed that landfill tax would shortly jump to more than £150 and £200 per tonne.

These days, UKIP is a different political force, although for how long remains to be seen. But if its pressure is more than mid-term blues for the Prime Minister and results in the UK pulling back from the European Union, how might it affect the waste sector? The question was considered at the launch of PlasticsEurope’s latest report on the sector across Europe on Tuesday.

The most obvious answer is: that depends on what the ‘new’ EU arrangements are. Since much of the drive for resource efficiency comes from Brussels in the form of various directives (landfill, WEEE, waste management), a key question would be how the national/regional/local decision-makers in the UK took up the baton.

Would our larger waste management companies carry on regardless? Several are multi-national concerns that might not relish new barriers between the UK and the EU. 

But, as PlasticsEurope’s data shows, you don’t have to be in the EU to recycle more. Of two notable ‘outsiders’, Switzerland (with a huge EfW sector) tops the recovery charts and Norway heads the plastics recycling table.

It will be interesting to see what the fifth MRW reference to UKIP brings in the coming months.

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