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Turkey U-Turns on Plastic Recycling Import Ban

Recently, Turkey announced a tightening on their plastic recycling imports. This news followed a Greenpeace investigation into the waste management facilities in Turkey, where it was reported that contracts were not being correctly fulfilled. Lots of plastic products that were intended to be recycled had actually been fly-tipped, resulting in masses of plastic pollution.

Turkey’s initial response was to clamp down on the plastic recycling products that they were able to take, resulting in a ban on PET, HDPE and LDPE plastics. This would’ve meant that the UK would need to find another place to send the 200,000 tonnes of plastic packaging waste that we send to Turkey annually, resulting in a huge backlog of waste and potentially causing more environmental damage when recyclables were required to be sent to landfill in order to manage the demand.

The Turkish plastics industrialist association (PAGDER) and Turkish recyclers fought against the new legislation and branded it as economically damaging. This was enough to instigate a massive U-turn on the law mere days after its introduction, leaving many plastic recyclers confused and environmentalist campaigners disappointed.

The UK has been planning to clamp down on the amount of plastic recycling that is exported.  A plastic tax has been proposed from April 2022, which will affect all producers of plastic whose products do not contain at least 30% recycled content. This is expected to have a fairly large impact in the development of plastics and the recycling of them.

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