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Fair exporters suffer from ‘a few bad apples’

A ban on plastic exports from the UK could prove to be very harmful, warns The Recycling Association following publication of the country’s new Environment Bill.

‘It is great to see that the Environment Bill has been brought before Parliament and there is much in it that is positive,’ says TRA’s managing director Simon Ellin. ‘This includes measures to require producers to take more responsibility for the recycling of what they place on the market and a consistent approach to recycling by local authorities.’

Strict rules in place

However, Ellin is concerned about the introduction of what it describes as a power to ban the export of plastic to developing countries. ‘There are already strict rules in place on recycled plastic exports via the Basel Convention and the rules that the countries importing the plastics have introduced.’

According to TRA, what is needed is better enforcement of those regulations by funding the UK’s environment agencies sufficiently to catch those who are breaking the rules. ‘Those who trade legitimately should not be penalised by the actions of a few bad apples,’ Ellin insists.

Tracking material

For that reason, TRA is investing in blockchain technology to track all exports to compliant, and audited end destinations. ‘We aim to assist the agencies in our common compliance goals and it is this partnership approach to finding solutions that is a far better and more sustainable option than blanket bans,’ Ellin explains.

Let importers decide

For developing countries, importing plastics can be a way of supporting their economies by giving them cheap commodities to support their manufacturing industries. But the chief executive insists: ‘It should be up to them to decide whether they wish to take our materials and up to us to ensure we meet the specifications for those commodities if they do.’

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