Fly-tipping was rarely far from the news in 2017 and an article in the Daily Telegraph was typical: “Fly-tipping soared by 50% last year as councils reported nearly one million incidents.”
The paper linked this to councils starting to charge for bulky waste, while others blamed new charging regimes at HWRCs. But experts in the sector thought this was too simplistic.
The 2016 total was in fact 936,000 incidents, up from 900,000 the previous year and the highest tally since 2010.
More light was shed on China’s operation National Sword initiative. According to Beijing, the target was ostensibly illegal imports involving weapons and drugs, but unregulated scrap plastic, paper and metals also came under its ambit. Observers anticipated this would affect western exporters, who would have to pay even greater attention to the quality of their re–cyclates.
Steve Wong, president of the Beijing-based China Scrap Plastics Association and a senior member of the Bureau of International Recycling (BIR), told MRW that the impact would be “immense”.
Stresses from the austerity agenda on council budgets continued to disrupt contracts for household collections and related activities. Barely a month passed without a council announcing it was considering a re-tender process or other, lower-cost, alternatives: one from March was the early demise of the East Sussex Joint Waste Partnership’s contract with Kier.
Questions were also being asked about delays to a couple of reports of importance for the sector: Defra’s 25-year plan framework and the Chief Scientific Officer’s special report From Waste to Resource Productivity. Little did we know only the later would appear - just - in 2017.