China’s latest steps to improve its environmental condition and deal with its own waste include a ban on the import of plastic waste. For the UK that means that the country has to find some way of disposing of some 500,000 tonnes of plastic waste and other materials.
"It's a huge blow for us...a game-changer for our industry," said Simon Ellin, the CEO of the UK Recycling Association.
"We've relied on China so long for our waste… 55% of paper, 25% plus of plastics," he told the BBC.
Environment secretary Michael Gove admitted he should have reacted faster to the issue and says the UK's long-term goal is to reduce the amount of plastic in circulation.
According to the Telegraph, UK recycling firms are looking to other markets such as Malaysia and Vietnam to take up the excess volume created by the Chinese block on imported waste.
The reality is that the UK needs to develop a true recycling culture and develop the infrastructure required to deal with its own waste. Any shift in destination to Malaysia or Vietnam, or India can only be temporary as these states begin to tackle their own waste management issues. We, in the UK, need to face the reality that markets for our waste are closing, and we need to do something to deal with our waste sooner rather than later.