Why calls for a plastic waste export ban have divided industry

Calls for a ban on plastic exports from one of the UK’s largest waste firms have both public and political support. But many in the waste sector still believe that exports are necessary, finds Conor McGlone

Waste giant Biffa last month published a report calling for a ban on the export of waste plastics as part of a drive for all plastics to be recycled within the UK. 

The call is a bold one, given that exports are big business. Two-thirds of plastic waste separated for recycling in the UK was sent abroad for processing last year. 

But Biffa argues that retaining the material as a resource would generate domestic investment and jobs and avoid “unintended environmental problems in other countries”. 

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