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Wednesday, 07 November 2012 10:19

China's proposed plastics ban and reactions

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Packaging association warns U.K. government

Plans by the Chinese government to ban plastic waste imports from the European Union (EU) would render the United Kingdom's recycling target figure of 57% by 2017 unachievable, warned the head of the Packaging and Films Association (Pafa).Barry Turner, Pafa's chief executive, said measures being discussed by a number of Chinese government ministries would see a ban on both the importing of unwashed post-consumer waste and the sale of unwashed plastic waste left over from the sorting of imported plastic and paper.

If implemented the measures would place a huge burden on the UK waste sector, Turner said; one it could not deal with, given the current infrastructure."As an industry we are committed to recycling," Turner said. "However we have said that it would take a decade to achieve a figure of 45%, while the government wants us to hit 57% in half that time."To meet the government's target would require considerable investment in both sorting and processing facilities, Turner said.

"The target will require a further 600,000 tonnes of material [to be dealt with] while we currently have capacity for 250,000 tonnes. We have been saying for some time that we believe the assumptions being made by civil servants advising government have been wrong," he added.Of the U.K.'s 433 local councils only two were "anywhere close" to achieving the 57% target, said Turner, "which immediately says there is a problem with the system."Pafa and the government's own advisory committee had warned the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) a number of times that the targets were unachievable, Turner said.

China Plastics Processing Industry Association's Response

The China Plastics Processing Industry Association's Plastics Recycling Committee – a group that represents recyclers in China – has sent an official response to the ministry summarising two main points in opposition to the new draft regulations on imported plastic waste.The key point in the official letter, which PRC-CPPIA shared with PRW sister publication Plastics News, said a regulation that lists import of unwashed post-consumer plastics as an illegal activity "lacks rationality".
The letter added that some types of waste plastics are difficult to dry after washing and will retain 25 percent of water, inflating the import cost. Water could also cause quality issues for engineering plastics such as nylon.
"If [the government] bans the import of unwashed plastics, it in fact will hurt the operation of many waste importers and recyclers with the exception of PET bottle flakes," the letter said.
Second, the letter argues that it is unreasonable to require recyclers to granulate materials before they are sold. The purpose of granulation is to facilitate uniform feeding of the materials. If regrind meets the feeding standards, it is wasteful to go through an additional procedure of granulation.

The ministry's draft policy stipulates the criteria for receiving import licenses and details on facility inspections.

Companies that are eligible to apply for the import and processing of waste plastics include:

• Polyester fibre manufacturers.
• Processors of plastics products and other manufacturers that use waste plastics in the raw materials.
• Companies that make granulated materials from waste plastics.
• Companies that make recycled PET flake with existing annual capacity of no less than 30,000 metric tons can apply to import recycled PET grinds and industrial scrap.
Ineligible companies include firms that make ultrathin shipping bags, food-contact products, medical products and construction supplies (with the exception of decorative products).

Read 7401 times Last modified on Monday, 12 November 2012 15:45

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