Britain’s recycling bosses last night warned they will struggle to cope after China imposed a ban imports of plastic waste.
Around half a million tonnes of plastic is currently shipped to China every year by councils and other organisations in the UK.
But yesterday China’s government imposed a ban on ‘foreign waste’ as part of a drive to upgrade its industries.
The move has raised fears more waste could be dumped or stockpiled in the UK because of a lack of recycling and waste facilities to process it.
Recycling bosses have warned that they will struggle to cope after China imposed a ban on imports of plastic waste (file photo)
Officials said the government was examining the impact of the move and whether more waste could be recycled in the UK.
But the UK Recycling Association said it had no idea what the short term solution was.
Chief executive Simon Ellin said: ‘It’s a huge blow for us. A game-changer for our industry.
‘We’ve relied on China so long for our waste. We simply don’t have the markets in the UK. It’s going to mean big changes in our industry.’
Analysis of customs data by eco campaigners Greenpeace suggests British firms have shipped more than 2.7million tonnes of plastic waste to China and Hong Kong since 2012.
That amounts to two thirds of our total plastic waste exports.
Council leaders said the China ban could mean a greater use of incineration.
Peter Fleming, from the Local Government Association, told the BBC: ‘Clearly there’s a part to play for incineration but not all parts of the country have incinerators.
‘It’s a challenge - but mostly in the short term… and we will