One in five councils has been hit by rising costs to its recycling services during the past year because of China’s waste import restrictions, a survey by the Local Government Association (LGA) has found.
The report revealed that councils which have been most affected have seen their recycling costs increase by £500,000 on average in the past year.
Associated restrictions on exports to Vietnam and Malaysia could lead to further rises in costs for UK councils. Thailand has also outlined plans for a ban on waste imports.
The report said MRF gate fees had increased on average from £15 to £22 per tonne in a year, in part due to stricter contamination demands on exports.
The LGA reiterated calls for manufacturers to contribute more to the cost of recycling and reduce the use of hard-to-recycle materials such as black plastic trays.
Martin Tett, LGA environment spokesman, said: “It is clear that the ban by China on imported waste, which could soon be implemented in other countries, could have a marked impact on councils’ ability to recycle.
“It is essential that the Government takes the opportunities of the upcoming Budget and publication of its resources and waste strategy to assess the financial impact of these bans on councils thoroughly, and encourage manufacturers to take up more of the responsibility for dealing with these unrecyclable materials.”