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.”