PLASTIC PILE-UP

First News - - Science News -

THE UK is on the verge of a re­cy­cling cri­sis, as au­thor­i­ties fig­ure out how to deal with a Chi­nese ban on im­ports of plastic waste.

For a long time, we have shipped 500,000 tonnes of plastic ev­ery year to China for re­cy­cling. That’s more than 25% of all the plastic we put in re­cy­cling bins. Around 55% of our pa­per re­cy­cling has been sent there, too.

But the Chi­nese in­tro­duced a ban on “for­eign garbage” this year, and there are real fears that the UK has nowhere safe to put all the waste.

Si­mon Ellin, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the UK Re­cy­cling As­so­ci­a­tion, told the BBC that: “It’s a huge blow for us… a game-changer for our in­dus­try”. It is thought the Chi­nese ban could lead to huge piles of plastic waste that end up in land­fill or are in­cin­er­ated (burnt). Nei­ther would be an en­vi­ron­men­tally-friendly way of deal­ing with the rub­bish.

Speak­ing to the BBC, a Green­peace spokesper­son said: “The Gov­ern­ment has got us into this mess by con­tin­u­ally putting off de­ci­sions and pass­ing the buck. Incin­er­a­tion is the wrong an­swer – it’s a high-car­bon non­re­new­able form of gen­er­at­ing elec­tric­ity. It also cre­ates toxic chem­i­cals and heavy met­als.”

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