From the 11th January China will officially be banning imports of millions of tonnes of plastic waste. Not only that, but they will also be increasing the quality controls for other imported waste. This all comes under President Xi Jinping’s hope to create a “beautiful China” with a lovely, pollution free environment by 2035. It would mean all contamination rates from waste must be below 0.5% as opposed to the 1.5% previously used. So any cardboard with staples, grit or stray waste would be sent right back to England. Something of a cause for concern.

These decisions have rather worried a number of environmentalists here in the United Kingdom, with China having previously been the biggest market for household waste.

According to a survey done by Greenpeace, British companies have shipped more than 2.7 million tonnes of plastic waste to China and Hong Kong over the past 5 years – which is a whopping 2/3rds of all our total waste plastic exports. It is thought that almost of all this would be sent back under the new legislation.

So, it is unsurprising that many are now calling for the UK to step up their recycling efforts in a bid to meet these unprecedented challenges. Currently, there isn’t so much a plan as a sense of bewilderment among the head honchos in British politics who seem rather surprised that China has taken such serious action and given them very little time to make alternative arrangements. Nations were only informed of the Chinese plan in July 2017 – a mere 6 months in advance. Not a huge amount of time to create an entirely new recycling plan.However, there is no doubt that a plan must be put in place or else we will see stockpiling of waste, incineration and the risk of landfill – none of which are positives for the British urban landscape – just think of the sheep!

In fact, the Chinese decision is sure to have some pretty serious consequences – local authority recycling rates could drop because the plastics simply have nowhere to go or the fees at sorting plants may well increase as they are forced to sort at a far higher standard. Currently, there is a very real concern that councils may simply stop collecting certain types of plastics that are seen as too challenging to collect.

Of course, the other side of this coin is not all doom and gloom. A number of experts, with whom we wholeheartedly agree, see this as an opportunity for Britain to create its own recycling infrastructure where it doesn’t need to rely on exporting waste. Instead, an entirely new sector could flourish devoted to the green movement – which could also create jobs and a general feeling of happiness and merriment.

Certainly, the UK has already been cracking down on recycling with a charge for plastic bags not only being applied in big stores, but to the smallest corner store as Brantlegh Waste will be reporting next week.

Of course, if you have any concerns or queries or would like your recyclables picked up by one of our professional team in London or Manchester please don’t hesitate to give us a call on 0333 8000 613 or drop us an email on