In January 2018, China’s import ban on 24 types of solid waste came into effect, prohibiting the import of waste such as unsorted mixed papers and plastics.
China is the world’s largest market for recyclable materials, with many European countries including the UK sending large volumes of recyclable material to China. The closure of this market will have a considerable impact in the short and medium term. We have already seen prices fall for fibre grades such as mixed papers and cardboard, as well as a move to find alternative outlets, such as Vietnam and Malaysia.
Veolia uses cutting-edge service design, state-of-the-art sorting facilities and creative communications teams to engage residents and encourage correct recycling behaviours. All of these solutions combine to ensure we maximise the quality of the material we collect and sort. This means we can place this material in alternative markets to minimise the impacts to our clients.
We will continue to invest in solutions which enable us to recycle more material domestically. Examples such as our Dagenham plastics facility which manufactures food-grade HDPE plastic flakes for milk bottle production and our partnership with Knauff Insulation, which sees fibreglass insulation manufactured from the glass separated at our Material Recovery Facilities (MRFs). Innovations such as this help to drive the circular economy, add value and better protect you, our clients, from fluctuating material prices.
We believe that the China import ban represents a real opportunity to improve the quality of the material we collect and sort and to think of new and innovative solutions to drive circular economy thinking.