9 August 2017 by Steve Eminton

Councils and waste firms must act over exports, ministers told

Government was told today by the paper sector that local authorities and waste management companies are among those that must act to help ensure standards are met for the export of recyclables.

The message to councils and waste firms came in letters from the Recycling Association and the Confederation of Paper Industries (CPI) to four government ministers requesting “high level diplomacy regarding the Chinese ban on the import of recyclable materials”.

The letters are in response to China’s recent notification to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) that it intends to ban certain “waste imports” (see letsrecycle.com story) Particular concern is thought to focus around plastic materials and mixed paper exports and discussions are underway between industry and Chinese buyers as to the exact implications.


China is cracking down on poor quality imports of recyclables

Signed by the Recycling Association chief executive Simon Ellin and CPI director general Andrew Large, the letter has been sent to: Liam Fox, secretary of state for trade: GregClark secretary of state for business; Michael Gove, secretary of state for environment; and Mark Field, minister at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.


In a statement, the Recycling Association and CPI said that they had notified the ministers of their support for efforts by the Chinese Government to improve the environmental standards and health of its population. And, the politicians are told that the recycling industry in the UK “has responded with initiatives to improve quality of material sent to China”.

However, they note that this requires a “supply chain response including manufacturers, retailers, local authorities, recyclers, waste management companies, and shipping lines, to ensure Chinese import standards are met”.

The two trade bodies have requested that the Government makes representation to the Chinese Government to extend the deadline for comments to the standard 60 days to give the opportunity to work with the Chinese Government on improving quality.

They also suggest that the move goes against the grain of free and international trade and that the Chinese Government, as part of the circular economy, must also take some responsibility for the materials it places on the market in the form of manufactured goods.


“This action by the Chinese Government seems draconian and against the spirit of international trade”

Adrian Jackson, President
Recycling Association

The Recycling Association president Adrian Jackson said: “Both The Recycling Association and Confederation of Paper Industries believe that it is important to make representation to the UK Government over the Chinese WTO notification that it intends to ban the import of scrap plastic and unsorted paper among other materials.

“This action by the Chinese Government seems draconian and against the spirit of international trade, especially as many companies, including our members, have worked hard to improve quality.

“But for those materials that are still allowed to be exported to China, this ban should serve as a warning. Unless the whole supply chain takes responsibility for the recyclability of a product at the end of its life, then key markets such as China will disappear. As a result, we have also asked the Government to help us make the entire supply chain aware of the need to improve quality.”


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