Plastic exports ban would ‘sacrifice legitimate market’, Veolia says

Waste management company Veolia says an all-out ban on plastic exports would “sacrifice the legitimate recycling market” for a globally traded commodity.

Waste exports
Calls to ban the export of waste have been growing in recent months

Last week, the cross-party environment, food and rural affairs (EFRA) committee called for a ban on the export of all plastic waste from the UK by 2027 (see letsrecycle.com story).

While fellow waste firm Viridor issued a statement in support of the proposal, trade bodies The Recycling Association and the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM) expressed concerns (see letsrecycle.com story).

In a statement of his own, Tim Duret, Veolia’s director of sustainable technology, said: “An all-out ban on plastic exports would sacrifice the legitimate recycling market for a globally traded commodity.

“The UK is building vital domestic plastics reprocessing infrastructure, but we should retain partnerships with established recycling facilities in Europe to achieve the circular economy and stimulate industry innovation.

“What should be banned is the export of mixed unprocessed plastics and the Environment Agency must be given more resources to tackle waste crime.”


The EFRA committee says the UK exports around 60% of the more than 2.5 million tonnes of plastic packaging waste it creates, with the main destination being Turkey.

Tim Duret is director of sustainable technology at Veolia

The committee says it has heard “alarming” accounts of British plastic waste being dumped and burned in Turkey, causing “irreversible and shocking” environmental and human health impacts.

However, CIWM says international markets remain “vital” for the recycling of sorted, clean and graded materials, provided they are exported in accordance with all relevant legislation.

And, The Recycling Association says many of the recycling facilities in Turkey are “as good as or sometimes better” than those in the UK, while those who export plastics illegally are bypassing laws anyway and “are not going to be deterred by a ban on legitimate operators”.

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