Viridor calls for plastic export ban

Viridor has called on the government to ban plastic exports from the UK in a report published today (2 December).

Viridor has pledged to reduce its plastic exports by 90%

And, it has pledged to immediately reduce its own export of plastic waste by 90% once its Avonmouth plastics recycling plant is operational.

The ‘Closing the Loop: Viridor’s roadmap to a truly circular plastics economy’ report calls on the government to put in place policy measures for the remaining 10%, that will enable investment in recycling and reprocessing facilities that will allow the UK to process all of its plastic waste domestically.

To do this, the waste management company says that the recycling and reprocessing industry needs to have similar contractual arrangements that “underpin other infrastructure sectors such as energy from waste and offshore wind”.

The waste management company said that longer-term contracts of at least 10 years would create the “stable revenues necessary” to deliver investment.

Viridor also urges the need for the Waste and Resources sector to be designated as “critical infrastructure” in the same way as water, health, energy and defence, “in recognition of its vital role in keeping the country clean and safe”.

Avonmouth

Viridor backs up its pledge by claiming that its Avonmouth plastics recycling and reprocessing plant, which is currently under construction, will have enough capacity to recycle 90% of plastics “domestically”.

Avonmouth
The Avonmouth facility will be operational early next year

The £317 million Avonmouth facility near Bristol, will reprocess over 80,0000 tonnes of plastic once operational early next year.

The plant is in its final stages of commissioning and is described by Viridor as a “UK first” as it will be powered by the existing energy from waste (EfW) plant, located in the same building.

Viridor added that with over 90% of its plastic exports being recycled domestically, it reduces the total UK plastic exports by up to 8%.

Kevin Bradshaw, CEO, Viridor said: “Reviewing how we extract raw materials, manufacture products and consume them is an essential but often missing element of how we need to tackle climate change. The UK’s ambitious targets for Net Zero will only be achieved if we tap into the resources that we all throw away today and improve recycling rates and capacity in the UK to deliver a more circular economy.

“Ending the export of plastic waste can become a reality through stimulating infrastructure investment in recycling and reprocessing and by working more collaboratively between industry, local and central Government.”

Government

Responding to the report, Recycling Minister Jo Churchill said: “Viridor’s new strategy is an excellent example of the ambitious plans we need to see from industry if we are to move to a more circular economy, where we significantly reduce our reliance on plastics and recycle more of our waste. Government action is leading the way to help businesses make this transition.

“Following the passage of our landmark Environment Act we are creating a deposit return scheme for drinks containers, introducing tougher controls on waste exports, and making manufacturers more responsible for their packaging. Together, these measures are taking meaningful strides towards our goal of preventing all avoidable plastic waste by 2042.”

Pledges

As well as the export pledge and recommendations, Viridor said that it would:

  • Expand operations to hard-to-recycle materials
  • Extract plastics from general waste and drive novel reprocessing techniques
  • Drive innovation and regulatory improvement to achieve complete plastic circularity

Useful links

Closing the loop: Viridor’s roadmap to a truly circular plastics economy

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