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Plastic recycling targets ‘out of touch’

China/Europe – Given China’€™s recently-announced bans on plastic waste imports, ‘€˜unrealistic’€™ recycling targets in Europe ‘€˜will fail even sooner than expected’€™, it has been forecast.

Developments in the Far East will surely jeopardise both UK and European recycling targets for plastics as the continent is already struggling with a lack of collection and recycling infrastructure, PackagingEurope has been told by Barry Turner, CEO of the UK-based Packaging and Films Association (PAFA). The strict regulations adopted by China ‘€˜will require a significant investment in Europe to fill the size of the hole created’€™, he added.

Quoting statistics from the UK government’€™s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), Mr Turner warned that with much of Britain’€™s plastic waste being exported to the Far East, particularly China, and with the UK already desperately short of plastic collection and recycling facilities, ‘€˜reaching the target of 57% by 2017 will be even more unrealistic and out of touch’€™, he commented.

In light of China’€™s actions, PAFA is calling on DEFRA to ‘€˜rethink’€™ the pressure placed on the industry via such high expectations. ‘€˜Last year, DEFRA was advised against this unachievable level of targets by its own advisory committee and now we are witnessing previously unforeseen moves in the Far East which will make them even more unattainable,’€™ argued Mr Turner.

Contending that there is currently no ‘€˜joined-up thinking’€™ on waste and recycling targets, he said it is ‘€˜clear that the burden of cost and responsibility is being forced on UK manufacturers and retailers at a time they can least afford it.’€™

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