A more balanced view of the British recycling industry

A news story recently hit the headlines about UK plastic wastes being dumped by Turkish roadsides – and this, quite rightly, has caused a wave of alarm and disappointment across the population and the industry’s waste and recycling professionals.

But is this really a fair and accurate representation of both British recycling and Turkey’s material importers?

Our MD, William Lee, recently shared his thoughts on the topic with MRW. If you missed the original article, you can catch up here…

Plastic recycling has been in the spotlight more than ever in recent times – from David Attenborough’s plastic-pollution revelations through to the Government’s environmental policymaking.

But the exportation of this material has quickly become viewed as the enemy of the waste sector, because, as the proverb goes, ‘one bad apple quickly spoils the bunch.’

Having trust and faith in British recycling

Seeing these shocking scenes in the media is undoubtedly upsetting, but we shouldn’t forget there are organisations that execute a great amount of care, compliance and due diligence when sourcing and supplying the highest quality recyclable materials. To single out only the activity of a very small minority of unscrupulous organisations is an unfair misrepresentation of an innovative, dedicated and highly regulated industry.

The importance of ‘safe export’

The truth is that a growing number of UK waste collectors and local authorities view the word ‘export’ as taboo – something to be avoided – but if the correct compliance, analysis, tracking and auditing measures are in place for the materials, why is there any need to fear distributing them to overseas facilities?

There are credible UK exporters who can provide comprehensive cradle-to cradle audit trails of commodity movements, which ensure the material, and the residual non-recyclable fractions, are being handled and recycled in a professional and ethical manner. An open book and transparent approach is required, but of course that doesn’t suit all exporters.

Recyclable materials still contain huge resource potential, so in an ideal world, perhaps we would make better use of them in our own country rather than another nation reaping the benefits. But sadly, regarding plastic, we simply don’t have the infrastructure in place – and won’t for some years to come – to deal with the vast volumes the UK produces.

This is where international collaboration comes into force. An article by The ENDS Report revealed that in 2019, the UK sent 24.3% of its 691,993 tonnes of plastic waste to Turkey – a country which has 400 recyclers who are approved and licenced to import waste.

This is the reason why safe, global exports have a valuable role to play within the UK’s resource agenda, plus why re-education is needed across the board to show people that a shinier side of the same coin does exist.

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Ready to talk? Get in touch with one of our experts

Call us on 01423 855978 or send us an email at salesteam@clearpointrecycling.co.uk

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