BPF Recycling Group Position Statement for Exports
The export of plastic waste materials for recycling, particularly to developing countries, is often seen as a dubious practice.
The BPF Recycling Group believes that where these materials are traded through properly controlled commercial channels and are recycled efficiently in an export market, this is always preferable to landfilling that material in the UK from an environmental standpoint.
The UK remains dependent upon the export market to achieve its plastic recycling targets. In the past when initiatives have been taken to increase the amount of plastic waste that is collected in the UK, such as for example the collection of bottles, time is needed to build up sufficient volume before investment in a UK plant can be justified. The export market provides an effective buffer to enable collection tonnages to be built up to viable levels.
Where plastic waste cannot be economically recycled in UK, the BPF Recycling Group supports its export for recycling. It also recognises that currently exporting waste plastics is necessary as part of a comprehensive recycling strategy to allow UK to meet its recycling targets.
It is vital that exporters adhere to National and International legislation governing exports. The BPF Recycling Group believes that stronger enforcement of regulations is necessary. Initiatives to improve the quality of collected plastic waste will be beneficial to both export and UK recyclers alike. The BPF Recycling Group has been active in developing a best practice protocol for the verification of plastic packaging recycling in the UK on behalf of the Advisory Committee on Packaging (ACP). It urges the ACP to seek the mandatory adoption of this code as soon as possible.