BPF’s Recycling Group signals concerns over growing shortage of usable plastics waste

The BPF’s Recycling Group (BPFRG) has signalled major concerns over the growing shortage of usable plastics waste which it can access and has questioned the wisdom of exporting used plastics materials at a time when demand for plastics recyclate is increasing in the domestic market. The Recycling Group is calling on Local Authorities to establish where their waste is actually going and is urging that it should be a condition of any Materials Reclamation Facility (MRF) contract for the collector to collate information on end markets. It is also calling for tighter controls on the Trans Frontier Shipment of Waste with tougher action from DEFRA and the Environment Agency on shipments intended for disposal. "The causes of the current difficulty are complex," said Recycling Group Chairman, Roger Baynham of Philip Tyler Polymers. "Manufacturing industry in the UK is bouncing back from the recession and increasing its demand for raw materials. Central to this is a heightened consciousness of sustainability which coupled with concerns over supply of some virgin polymers is exacerbating an already fraught situation. Many of our members have had a longstanding issue over the quality of the output materials from Materials Reclamation Facilities which they believe are processing waste more with an eye to volume for the global market than for quality. Hence the question of exports is now more acute. "The plastic recycling industry must have access to more waste otherwise as a sector we risk losing credibility with our customers. In effect they will say to us that for years you have been wanting us to use more recyclate and now that we've geared up to use it, you can't deliver. The tragedy is that this threatens to stall growth in recycling and our ability to meet the aspirations of the plastics 20/20 challenge and so we call on government to take a lead by tightening up on exports to help create a truly sustainable domestic supply chain for plastics recycling,” he added. Baynham said, “There is certainly an ongoing role for export markets but with Chinese landfill estimated to cost only 5% of that in the UK there is hardly a level playing field and there is too much temptation for MRF operators to send low quality used plastics overseas. We certainly need more regulation in this area to enable our members to maintain the confidence of its customers - brand owners and manufacturers alike, maintain the momentum towards a low carbon economy and provide more local jobs in the plastics recycling industry."
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