The restrictions are being seen within the UK’s plastics recycling sector as meaning that an important market for UK material is definitely closing its doors to mixed and possibly contaminated loads and that these will now need to find a recycling solution in the UK, provided the material is of suitable quality.
Turkey had already signalled in January this year that while it had not formally implemented the Basel Convention changes to plastics recycling exports, it was going to introduce new controls.
Now, on 26 February, the EA issued an update on how it sees the rules on exports to Turkey and how it will implement them after reviewing a Turkish government import rules document. At the same time, the Agency warned exporters of plastics for recyclers not to try and get round the new rules by using incorrect EWC classification codes when consigning material.
One important feature of the restrictions is that material which has been shredded or mechanically treated will not be allowed in to Turkey. The Agency states: “Our understanding of the rules is that such wastes can only be exported to Turkey if they are in single polymer form and haven’t undergone mechanical treatment. Mechanical treatment such as trommel screening, disc screening, optical sorting and shredding used in order to produce the waste stream from a mixed material would result in that waste being classified under Chapter 19 of the List of Wastes”.
The EA says that its interpretation of the Turkish import restrictions is that the following plastics are prohibited:
· Y48 plastic mixtures (single polymer types, like PVC, may be allowed subject to obtaining prior informed consent).
· B3011 – PET, PP and PE mixtures.
· Plastic wastes containing any polymers (single or mixtures) produced as a result of mechanical treatment of wastes and therefore classified as EWC 19 12 04.
But, importantly, plastic packaging under EWC code 15 01 02 can still be exported and that as long the material is one polymer, it can be compacted or baled but cannot have been mechanically treated.
In the UK exporters told letsrecycle.com that they were already working under a new regime with Turkey and that they considered mixed rigid materials, such as children’s toys and pots, tubs and trays could not now go to Turkey. They added that the UK would become the main market for such material.
However, there is said to be good demand in Turkey for single stream clean material, with examples given as HDPE milk bottles which had been prewashed, food industry drums and strapping.
The guidance document from the Environment Agency can be seen here