The Local Government Association (LGA) has warned of the higher waste costs being faced by councils over the last year as a “direct impact” of China’s restrictions on imports of recycled materials from the UK.
The announcement follows a snapshot poll by LGA, which found that the councils most impacted have seen their recycling costs increase by £500,000 on average over the last year, as a result of the restrictions.
And, LGA warns that at least a fifth of councils have felt a “direct impact” from China’s restrictions on imports of mixed paper and certain types of plastic.
This is due in part to increased costs for processing materials for recycling, the Association explains.
The fee charged to councils to process materials collected from kerbside collection at a materials recovery facility (MRF) is said to have increased from £15 to £22 per tonne over the last year. The fee has increased to £35 a tonne compared with £29+ a tonne for contracts signed in the past year, the survey found.
Council leaders are calling for manufacturers to contribute more towards local authority costs for processing recycling and to reduce the amount of material, such as black plastic trays.
The LGA is also urging the Government to address the longer term impact of the China ban in its forthcoming Resources and Waste Strategy.
Malaysia has also imposed a three-month ban on importing scrap plastics with Vietnam looking into banning scrap plastics as well which is prompting concerns that recycling issues and the cost to taxpayers could increase further, LGA states.
The LGA has previously called on manufacturers to reduce the amount of unrecyclable material, such as black plastic microwave meal trays, as a way to cut out a need to export waste to other countries.
“The rising costs caused by this ban risk combining with ongoing and severe council funding pressures to affect other essential local services.”Martin Tett
Cllr Martin Tett, LGA Environment spokesman, said: “Councils are doing all they can to improve recycling rates, which is why 100 per cent of councils collect paper for recycling, and 99 per cent collect plastic bottles. The rising costs caused by this ban risk combining with ongoing and severe council funding pressures to affect other essential local services.
He continued: “Councils want manufacturers to play their part in the battle against unnecessary and unrecyclable waste. We are keen to get around the table with them to reduce the amount of material entering the environment which can’t be recycled.
“It is essential that the Government take the opportunities of the upcoming Autumn Budget and publication of its Resources and Waste strategy to assess the financial impact of these bans on councils thoroughly, and encourage manufacturers to take up more of the responsibility for dealing with these unrecyclable materials.”