China's imports of millions of tonnes of plastic waste causes rubbish build up recycling plants in UK
04 January 2018
China's ban on importing millions of tonnes of plastic waste has caused rubbish to build up at recycling plants around the UK, according to experts.
The decision would see half a million tons of the toxic substance burned in the UK, rather than exported and is expected to bring chaos for councils in the weeks ahead.
According to Simon Ellin, chief executive of the UK Recycling Association, members of the association had already seen lower grade plastics piling up and warned urgent action was needed.
''You can already see the impact if you walk round some of our members' yards,'' he said, The Telegraph reported.
''Plastic is building up and if you were to go around those yards in a couple of months' time the situation would be even worse.''
The leaders of the UK's recycling industry have been left wondering how to cope as China's policy came into force on 1 January.
About two thirds of the UK's plastic - about 500,000 tons each year - is shipped to China for recycling.
The ban, which comes as part of a drive towards self-sufficiency and to prevent environmental contamination, means councils would need to send much of their waste for incineration or landfill unless an alternative market is found.
Meanwhile, the leader of the Welsh Local Government Association said the UK government and manufacturers need to take a "longer-term view" on the amount of plastic used in products following the ban.
Councillor Debbie Wilcox, who is also leader of Newport City Council, said UK government policy on recycling needed to change and manufacturers need to "stop wrapping things up 10 times more than is needed".
She further claimed around 19 per cent of Wales' paper and cardboard went to China.
In 2014-15 Wales' recycling exports stood at 26,850 tonnes, including 4,116 tonnes of plastics.