Monday, 19 November, 2018

Plastic recycling industry's problems costing councils up to £500,000 a year

The pile of bales is so vast that it can be seen by satellite imagery
Credit
Telegraph The pile of bales is so vast that it can be seen by satellite imagery Credit Telegraph
Kristen Harrington | 22 October, 2018, 10:50

Most local authorities collect plastic bottles, but some councils are on the brink of ending plastic collections amid fears the plastic will end up polluting the oceans when exported.

She said that the borough council has closed its plastic recycling banks and is working with Hampshire County Council to "look for markets for this material".

Earlier this year the system was criticised by the National Audit Office for its lack of checks or verifications; and a Guardian investigation into the United Kingdom plastics recycling industry reports exporters declared 35,135 tonnes more plastic had been shipped overseas than had been recorded by HM Customs.

Just this week, it emerged Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council and Southampton City Council were closing a number of mixed plastic recycling banks under plans to burn it rather than recycle.

Proposals by Swindon Borough Council to ask residents not to put out plastic waste for recycling, but instead put it into their black bins hit the headlines today. Many other councils are expected to follow suit.

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One source with knowledge of the inquiry told The Guardian: "In the last few months the customs figures on waste plastic are lower than the figures given to the Environment Agency by the exporters - suggesting more people are shipping stuff they claim is waste plastic in order to get the Pern price".

Much of the UK's recycling was previously sent to China and since the restrictions came in at the beginning of the year, councils have been forced to find other options.

A survey by the Local Government Association (LGA) revealed almost half of councils who responded (52) say China's ban is having a significant impact on their ability to collect and recycle plastic, due to rising costs.

The Advertiser understands that other national media outlets, newspapers and broadcast media, were inundating communications staff at Euclid Street picking up on the Telegraph story. While many Chinese companies relocated their operations to Malaysia, the Asian country does not have the capacity to replace China and this week imposed a three-month ban on imports.

To deal with the problem, the Japanese ministry said it will expand domestic capacity to process plastic waste.

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The Daily Mail has led the way in highlighting the scourge of global plastic pollution with its Turn The Tide On Plastic campaign.

The government also intends to boost efforts to encourage recycling, the survey added.

"It's clear that the ban by China on imported waste, which could soon be implemented by other countries, could have a marked impact on councils' ability to recycle", said Martin Tett, environment spokesman for the LGA.

'Councils want manufacturers to play their part in the battle against unnecessary and unrecyclable waste.

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