The British Plastics Federation (BPF) has urged its members to carry out updated fire risk assessments for their premises while warning of a build-up of waste materials in the supply chain.
The call came after several fires at recycling facilities in recent months, including a large blaze at a Jayplas’ depot in Smethwick where some 10,000 tonnes of plastics materials were lost at the beginning of July.
In a letter to its members, the BPF noted that waste materials has been piling up in UK facilities as a result of China’s crackdown on the import of low quality materials known as Operation Green Fence.
The policy has been officially in place since February 2013 and involves more rigorous checks of containers arriving at Chinese ports than previously.
“‘Green Fence’ has severely limited the opportunity to export used plastics to China for recycling and this has caused a build-up of waste materials in the supply chain in the UK,” the BPF said.
However, recent plastics packaging figures released by the Environment Agency indicated that, after a significant drop in March, exports of plastic materials grew again between April and June, with some industry insiders suggesting that exporters had found alternative export destinations.
The BPF’s Recycling Group has also backed a campaign led by the Marine Conservation Society to discourage the public from using sky lanterns, saying the joint effort will help in reducing the fire risk carried by floating lanterns. A Chinese lantern was main cause of the fire at the Jayplas site.