UK recyclers have been searching for alternative markets for waste materials as China has banned further exports to them. Countries in South East Asia have been identified as possible options, including Thailand, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam.
AS China has a much larger recycling market than its neighbours, the ability of other countries to absorb the capacity previously provided by China has been seriously called into question. However, the latest figures from HMRC show that this has not dissuaded UK recyclers from exporting their waste to these markets, with exports of plastics to Malaysia tripling. Malaysia has become the single largest destination for UK plastics waste, while exports to Thailand increased by fifty times and those to Taiwan increased by ten times.
Meanwhile, UK exports of plastics waste to China fell by 97 per cent, falling behind France and Italy. Exports to Hong Kong has fallen by 71 per cent. Overall, total plastic waste exports from the UK have fallen from 243 million kilogrammes (kg) in the first quarter of 2017 to 215 million kg in the corresponding quarter of 2018.