Suez UK has said it has not directly sent any material to China since April 2017, and has successfully found other markets in response to the country’s import restrictions on waste.
In response to widespread media coverage on China’s crackdown on waste imports, Suez said it had secured customers in Asia and Europe.
The company took steps to find alternative markets after China announced its National Sword initiative in February 2017. This followed on from 2013’s Operation Green Fence, which led to major upheaval in recycling markets across the world.
A Suez statement said the company did not foresee a big enough global drop in demand for recycled materials that would make energy-from-waste a “viable or attractive alternative to recycling”.
In the past week, a number of news stories have raised the spectre of stockpiling in the UK and a possible increase in incineration, with one Telegraph headline reading: ’Toxic plastic to be ‘burned in Britain’ due to China import ban’.
The Suez statement said: “Although some recycling companies may be more exposed by the situation in China, our current advice to both our public and private sector clients, along with the consumers and householders we serve, is that everyone should continue to recycle as they always have until notified in the future either by their recycling and waste management firm or via their local authority.
“The recycled materials produced in the UK compete globally for markets and it is essential, now more than ever, that the material we produce and export as a country is of the best quality.”
Meanwhile, Viridor said it had stopped exporting plastics to China last year and identified new Asian markets for this resource.
The company said it was exploring new applications for recycled plastic and opportunities to enhance its polymers investment programme, which currently includes a specialist plastics recycling facility in Kent and a processing plant in Skelmersdale.