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Plastic export regulations are a step in the right direction, but more infrastructure investment is needed

At the start of this month, the EU placed restrictions on non-recyclable plastic waste exports to non-OECD (Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development) countries. Although Brexit has taken place, the EU ban does not apply to the UK – this is because we are an OECD country and already subject to tight regulations when it comes to trading plastic waste.

In only allowing recyclable, ‘clean’ plastic waste to be exported to non-OECD countries, the EU hopes to stem the dumping of illegal waste in developing countries. These countries often lack the resources to responsibly treat the waste, so it is often dumped in the ocean and environment, or sent to incinerators. The rules will also see the imposition of stricter measures on plastic waste exports from the EU to OECD countries and within the EU.

Whilst these new measures improve the process of recycling by reducing the offloading of waste on developing countries, we believe it stops short of countries and reprocessors passing quality assurance tests to prove their ability to treat waste appropriately.

At Casepak, we ensure that any export of material processed at our facilities complies with strict regulations. We always monitor the ‘journey’ of our materials and compile monthly reports for our partners to show where their materials have been sent. Furthermore, we only ever work with responsible and reputable firms with a proven track record of reprocessing recyclables responsibly.

Importantly, we also believe that the UK should improve its own recycling infrastructure. This would increase the amount of waste material that could be recycled and repurposed into new products and help to close the UK’s recycling loop.

With these steps towards better treatment of plastic by the EU and the UK, we hope that further developments are not far off. If the UK is serious about leading the climate revolution, then investment in recycling infrastructure would be a clear indicator of intent and an improvement in recycling efficiency.