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Industry calls on plastic bottle exports to be reviewed

Leading industry figures have called for restrictions to be put on exporting plastic bottles to the Far East, saying the European shortage is “getting critical” for some facilities.

European Plastics Recyclers (EuPR) believe the recycling of PET bottles is “too tight” and that due to exchange rates, a longer winter, the bottles’ weight reduction and the increased export to the Far East the amount of bottles available for recycling has decreased.

A statement from EuPR said: “Leakage of bottles to the Far East is leading to a more unsustainable situation which will affect the converters, brand owners and final users. Furthermore, the benefit of the collected material financed by the European tax payers is being misused outside the EU, instead of being used for supporting the European recyclers and helping Europe to move towards a recycling society.”

This comes after Closed Loop’s managing director Chris Dow said exporting the bottles “is a threat to the UK’s infant recycling industry”. He added that it was the responsibility of the new Government to review the packaging recovery note system, which he believes support the shipments by local authorities and waste companies.

AWS Eco Plastics commercial director Duncan Oakes said the PRN system should be scrapped. He added: “It’s definitely flawed. It is just an added complication to the recycling process. PRNs are used completely for pricing support so the money is collected and used solely to buy materials rather than building new infrastructure.”

Addressing the shortage of bottles in Europe, Oakes commented: “It’s logical that when there is a shortage of supply the last thing that people should do is ship it out when it could be used on your own doorstep. But there are some plastic grades that we cannot recycle here and so it’s better to ship it out rather than landfill it.”

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