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International trade and UK business

After years of lobbying for greater UK reprocessing capacity, we may be forced into investing locally rather than by political choice. China’s import restrictions on waste, Brexit and new EU rules will all have a big impact on business.

China may ban all waste imports by 2020. Will this lead to the UK increasing its recycling capacity?*

03a international trade v2

The UK is to sign up to a EU recycling target of 65%. How useful will this be in driving up UK recycling?*

03b eu recycling target

What impact do you think Brexit will have on your business?

03c brexit impact

China’s National Sword initiative dominated many MRW headlines last year, as well as some of those in the mainstream media. As a measure of business confidence, the survey results show some optimism – 77% think the UK will be recycling more domestically.

But nearly a quarter said exporting will continue at around its current level. Some UK facilities have reported that upgrading MRFs has enabled them to avoid exporting plastic altogether. It could be a case of ‘sink or swim’ – with those businesses able to invest managing to keep their heads above water.

We now have just six months until the UK leaves the EU, and a third of respondents are still gloomy about the prospect.

Months of political wrangling, both within the Conservative Party and with EU negotiators, does not seem to have greatly affected respondents’ views on how it will affect their business. In 2017, 13% said Brexit would lead to growth of their business and in 2018, this has risen slightly to 18%.

Correspondingly, the percentage of respondents who think Brexit will shrink their business decreased very slightly, from 35% to 34%. But the majority, nearly half, still think there will be no impact.

Although the UK has indicated it will take the EU circular economy package into domestic legislation, it is far from clear what will happen after Brexit. Will the UK stick to a 65% recycling target and, if so, how will we achieve it? Three-fi ft hs of respondents think such a target would benefit the UK. There may be arguments over using weight-based measures, but many people want something to aim at.

* Figures may not add up to 100% due to rounding

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