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Plastics recycling needs boost to keep up with China

The plastics recycling industry has been told it will have to expand rapidly if the UK is to meet European landfill diversion and recycling targets now that China has entered the arena.

China announced that it was to recycle 70% of major waste products within the next four years. Since then, a fall in the price of recovered plastics prompted companies to renew calls to end UK reliance on selling to the Far East.

The British Plastics Federation (BPF) recycling group chairman, Roger Baynham said once China builds plastics recycling infrastructure, the Chinese market will no longer represent “the easy option that many waste companies have been used to”.

He added: “There will need to be a rapid acceleration of plastic recycling capacity and the development of high volume sustainable downstream markets for recycled plastics in order to meet our obligations under the EU Packaging Directive, as well as other plastic recycling targets.”

Baynham said the recycling group is concerned about the over-reliance on the Chinese market. According to the data it had received, the UK exported 684,000 tonnes of plastic waste to China in 2010. However, this only accounted for 4% of the total Chinese consumption of plastic waste.

Baynham added: “The UK plastic recycling sector is already at the cutting edge and this could represent a huge opportunity for continued innovation and investment to enable the industry to play a key role at the forefront of a UK low carbon manufacturing revolution.”

Readers' comments (1)

  • This day was always going to come. Could it be a spur to some genuine strategic thinking about the role of resources in the national economy and policies to support UK reprocessing?

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