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Trade bodies petition for recycling industry support

September 28, 2017

Four UK trade associations have written a letter to Environment Minister calling for urgent action on Chinese import restrictions.

A letter has been sent to Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey MP from Confederation of Paper Industries, Resource Association, the Recycling Association and the Environmental Services Association. In the letter, the four trade bodies call on Defra to “take urgent action” to support the UK recycling industry. The letter also urges WRAP to return its focus to market development, and asks that the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment and Rural Opportunities dispatch a UK delegation to China to “negotiate at a high level in support of support of our desire to continue to provide the Chinese economy with secondary materials that they need, on terms that are reasonable and continue to protect the environment as well as being practicable in a UK context.”

The letter, which was signed by Simon Weston, Director of Raw Materials, Confederation of Paper Industries; Ray Georgeson MBE, Chief Executive, Resource Association; Simon Ellin, Chief Executive, the Recycling Association; and Jacob Hayler, Executive Director, Environmental Services Association, was penned in response to Chinese plans to restrict imports.

The Chinese Government proposes to “restrict imports of recovered materials unless they reach a contamination level of just 0.3%, as well as a complete ban on the import of post-consumer plastics and mixed papers”.

This move, as the letter states, has “the potential to be very damaging for UK recycling performance” and has prompted concerns on the part of the trade associations for “the longer-term prospects for UK manufacturing”.

The four associations describe China’s planned restrictions as being “difficult to achieve without excessive costs” and describes them as “a significant tightening of rules beyond what is needed to ensure good quality material is received at minimum environmental impact.”

They urge the Environment Minister and WRAP “to encourage the use of secondary materials in UK manufactured products and open up new market opportunities”, as this “would send a clear signal to UK recyclers and reprocessors”, as well as to local members of government, and “would be widely welcomed.”  

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