How recent changes in the industry are impacting recyclate requirements
High quality has always been a requirement for recycling processors and the waste industry is fully-focused on how to better increase the quality of our recyclates.
Entering full force in March 2018 – China introduced new restrictions on imports that impacted the entire waste sector and the recycling market. The restrictions included a 0.5% contamination limit on recyclates, in addition to a ban on plastic and mixed paper waste entirely.
In the aftermath of the China import ban, the focus on imports shifted to other countries, with Malaysia, Turkey, Taiwan and Thailand, in particular, seeing a growth in the materials imported.
In a comparison of plastic waste published in the FT Weekend article Recycling is Broken, Can We Fix It? for the 1st half of both 2017 and 2018, China’s plastic imports dropped by 94% and as a result other imports have seen a significant rise in plastic imports, Thailand especially seeing a rise of over 1300%.
What does this mean for our recyclable materials?
The focus needs to be on quality, quality, quality.
For the UK to reach our recycling targets, improve landfill diversion rates and to ensure we are meeting the market standards for recyclate buyers, the quality of our recyclates must improve.
This statement was previously made by the Recycling Association in 2016, when they warned that “UK reprocessors must address quality or risk buyers looking elsewhere.” Now, the quality requirement is even more paramount for the UK, and DMR is in the firing lines as one of the main causes of low-quality recyclates.