In anticipation of restrictions placed upon inbound recyclable materials by the Chinese Government, SUEZ sought to secure alternative Asian and European offtake markets for its recyclable material products early in 2017. We have been successful in securing customers in alternative markets and, as such, have not directly exported any material to China since April 2017.
SUEZ does not foresee any immediate risk of global market demand for recycled materials dropping sufficiently for recovery of energy, by incineration, to be a viable or attractive alternative to recycling and, in any event, clean target material, separated by consumers for recycling, will not, and should not, be treated in this way.
Although some recycling companies may be more exposed by the situation in China, our current advice to both our public and private sector clients, along with the consumers and householders we serve, is that everyone should continue to recycle as they always have until notified in the future either by their recycling and waste management firm or via their local authority.
The recycled materials produced in the UK compete globally for markets and it is essential, now more than ever, that the material we produce and export as a country is of the best quality. We would urge businesses and local authorities to think carefully about the quality of material they collect and to be vigilant in protecting materials against contamination.
SUEZ has long called for the UK government to take the helm in stimulating markets for recycling by ensuring that policies are in place to compel manufacturers to use more recycled material in their products and packaging, thereby creating sustainable demand for these materials. As it stands, the UK’s long-term environmental performance is at risk of being determined only by global market dynamics or the policies of other nations.
We would like to see the UK government incentivise more sustainable product design, greater use of recyclable materials in products and packaging, and better capture of materials at the end of their life – ideally funded by manufacturers. In turn, we believe this would stimulate the domestic market and facilitate the re-shoring of recycling, re-processing and sustainable manufacturing industries – with all of the associated financial benefits to the UK economy.