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Fifth of councils see recycling cost rise after China ban

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Councils are being hit hard by the rising cost of recycling, with some saying they paid around £500,000 more over the past year.

The main reason is a decision by China to restrict imports of mixed paper and certain types of plastic.

Much of the UK's recycling was previously sent to China and since the restrictions came in at the beginning of the year, councils have been forced to find other options.

But those options are dwindling fast - Malaysia has imposed a three-month ban on importing scrap plastic and Vietnam is considering a similar move.

At least 20% of councils have felt a direct impact from China's decision, according to a snapshot poll for the Local Government Association, and there are fears this could mean more charges for council taxpayers.

Local authorities are calling for manufacturers to help pay the cost of recycling their products and for help in preventing the wrong material ending up in recycling collections.

Martin Tett, LGA environment spokesman, said: "It's clear that the ban by China on imported waste, which could soon be implemented from other countries, could have a marked impact on councils' ability to recycle.

"It's essential that the government provide support to help councils offset the loss of income they face as a result of the ban and encourage manufacturers to use more recyclable materials."

He added: "The rising costs caused by this ban risk combining with ongoing and severe council funding pressures to affect other essential local services.

"Councils want manufacturers to play their part in the battle against unnecessary and unrecyclable waste.

"We are keen to get around the table with them to reduce the amount of material entering the environment which can't be recycled.

"With the markets to sell unrecyclable material shrinking, it is essential that this is tackled as soon as possible."

A Defra spokeswoman said: "We are working with councils and the waste industry to respond fully to the new requirements imposed by China.

"Our ambition is to handle more of our waste in the UK. While there has been a significant increase in recycling over the last 10 years, there is more that needs to be done.

"We will set out our reforms to reduce waste and increase recycling in our Resources and Waste Strategy later this year."
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