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Policy makers "too sanctimonious" on exports

As we struggle to cope with the amount of waste this country produces, policy makers have become “too sanctimonious” about what can and can’t be done with it.

That is the view of Grosvenor Waste director of recycling development Mary Corin, who believes that we are closing off export markets that are extremely valuable.

She said: “We are competing in a global market where exported materials are worth $300/tonne. To them it doesn’t matter if paper contains a couple of bottles or cans.

“But because of quality specifications, companies here are fined up to $50,000/tonne if they are not adhering totally- but this hard-line approach is closing off markets that are currently very valuable.”

Corin believes that with the Environment Agency clamping down on co-mingled shipments being sent abroad for recycling, people are becoming increasingly wary about pursuing this avenue for dealing with waste.

“The resources we send are like gold dust to countries like China, but we are becoming far too sanctimonious about what can and can’t be done with waste. We buy it all back as cheap manufactured goods, so what would happen if they couldn’t get materials imported?

“They’d need to plunder virgin materials. In China, people will follow you, wait for you to dump a plastic bottle and take it. They would bite your hand off for it and are desperate for such resources. But policies here are restricting our input into this potentially massive market.”

And with infrastructure in this country a pressing matter, the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management chief executive Steve Lee agrees that markets to export waste must be put in place, describing the practice as “future fact”.

He said: “It is absolutely essential that we are able to export waste. But the public also needs to trust businesses to manage the practice properly and get the quality specifications right.”


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