Plastic Recycling Rethink Required

With the news coming that China proposed to cut the amount of waste it imported from other countries late last year, the recycling and waste industry in the UK have already started to see the impact.

On January 1st this year the ban came into force, meaning that companies from the UK could no longer send 24 kinds of solid waste – some of which include plastic bottles and mixed paper. As China is one of the biggest importers of recyclable materials in the world, it leaves many people wondering where the waste will now go.

China refers to the rubbish as “foreign garbage”, something it formerly took in from countries like Japan, the US and the UK. China has long been a manufacturing force in the world, meaning it required more recyclable materials, but it’s now thought that China’s own domestic market for recycling has reached a point which is allowing them to stop buying in material.

The result has already seen lower grades of recyclable materials collected piling up at waste sites with nowhere to go.


What can be done instead?

The government, more precisely environment secretary Michael Gove, has already announced plans to cut the amount of plastic in the UK. This would presumably be via initiatives likes carrier bag charges, which helped to slash the number of plastic bags in circulation, and the ban on plastic microbeads in products. In direct relation to China’s import ban, Gove has yet to state what the government will do.

Some have suggested that this could be a benefit for the UK, forcing us to develop our own recycling infrastructure which would create jobs and ensure we utilise as much material as possible for our own industries.

There are other positive initiatives too, such as news of plastic bottle deposit schemes, rewarding people for recycling their plastics. However, it’s unclear whether this would pile more pressure on finding somewhere for the waste to go.

In the meantime, Brown Recycling are endeavouring to recycle as much of these materials as possible, but to do this the materials ideally need to be fully segregated at source for single stream recycling. Co-mingled or mixed recycling is frequency contaminated as people are not always aware of what can and can’t be recycled, and would not be aware of the penalties incurred by recyclers exporting contaminated recycling loads.

At Brown Recycling we provide waste management and recycling service for Stoke-on-Trent, Crewe and the surrounding areas, helping to reduce waste sent to landfill and achieve our “zero to landfill” target. To learn more about the materials we can recycle and how our services could benefit you, simply contact our professional team today.



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